World Rugby has predicted that the 2019 World Cup will set new benchmarks across multiple metrics as it celebrates the 100-day countdown to this year’s tournament in Japan.
Asia’s first Rugby World Cup will take place from 20th September to 2nd November, with World Rugby stating that, to date, more than 80% of available tickets have been sold to fans from more than 170 nations, with purchasers set to travel from as far north as Russia and as far south as Antarctica.
A record 400,000 international visitors are anticipated to arrive in Japan between September and November, while more than 100,000 fans have purchased tickets through Official Travel Agents – surpassing the total sold for the 2015 World Cup in England.
With rugby’s fanbase having grown by more than 20% since the last World Cup, World Rugby said its innovative approach to fan-engagement will look to inspire a new generation of fans and participants beyond its traditional strongholds. The sport’s world governing body said Japan 2019 is set to be the most engaged, viewed and consumed rugby event ever.
World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “With 100 days to go I am confident that Japan 2019 will be a game changer on every metric – the most socially and economically impactful, the most transformational, the most-viewed and engaged and, we believe, the most competitive Rugby World Cup to date.
“From the stadia to the fan-zones and across the host cities, we are looking forward to a unique festival atmosphere as the world’s best players bid to win rugby’s greatest prize – the Webb Ellis Cup.”
The tournament's legacy programme - Impact Beyond 2019 - has already attracted more than 1.16 million participants in Asia, while dedicated development programmes in Japan continue to introduce children to the sport.
Beaumont added: “We awarded the hosting rights to Japan 10 years ago recognising the clear and compelling opportunity to unlock the rugby potential of Asia, the world’s most populous and youthful continent. I am delighted that we have already converted that opportunity, attracting more than one million new participants (over 200,000 in Japan) and raising more than £1.5m for the remarkable ChildFund Pass It Back programme, which will transform the lives of more than 25,000 disadvantaged children across Asia.”
The 100 days to go milestone was marked by the unveiling of the Rugby World Cup 2019 Tudor countdown clock in Tokyo and the beginning of a domestic trophy tour that will see the Webb Ellis Cup visit all 12 host cities, as well as historic Kyoto, before arriving at Tokyo Stadium for the opening match between Japan and Russia on 20th September.
Its arrival in Japan will mark the end of an international trophy tour that saw the Webb Ellis Cup visit 19 countries. The trophy has so far travelled 200,000 miles during the largest ever edition of the tour.
The locations of the 16 World Cup Fanzones were also revealed today. Entry to the Fanzones will be free and the sites will offer live screenings of matches on big screens, rugby-themed activities, food and drinks, entertainment and unique regional content to celebrate each host city and match venue.
Japan Rugby World Cup 2019 Organising Committee CEO Akira Shimazu said: “The Webb Ellis Cup is here in Japan, our Host Cities are ready, our stadiums are in immaculate condition and our 20 teams are itching to take the field. I speak on behalf of all Japan, a 127 million strong welcoming committee, when I say that we are ready to welcome the world to Japan, and ready to host a truly memorable and once in a lifetime Rugby World Cup.”
Beaumont added: “With 100 days to go we would not be in such great shape without the clear vision and teamwork of our friends at Japan Rugby 2019, the JRFU (Japan Rugby Football Union), the teams and all the host cities and I would like to thank them all for their commitment and dedication to preparing what promises to be a very special Rugby World Cup.”