ラグビー W杯をスポーツ界の活力に

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Aug. 2, 2009)
2019 Rugby World Cup could give sports fillip
ラグビー W杯をスポーツ界の活力に(8月2日付・読売社説)

Japan has won the right to host the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

We hope that hosting the event will invigorate not only rugby, but sport more generally in the nation, which has been suffering during the severe economic downturn.

The Rugby World Cup is said to be the third-biggest sporting event in the world after soccer's World Cup and the Summer Olympic Games. Since it was launched in 1987, the Rugby World Cup has been held every four years. But Japan will be the first Asian nation to host the tournament.

Japan was likely picked in light of the praise it earned for its hosting in June of the Junior World Championship (for players aged 20 or under) among other factors. Also, the International Rugby Board apparently is intent on expanding the rugby business through greater internationalization of the sport.


Long way to go

But the reality is that Japan still has many obstacles to overcome ahead of the tournament.

First and foremost, it is imperative to raise the standard of the national team--a strong team would likely lead to greater public excitement over the tournament.

Japan has participated in all six rugby World Cups, but has each time failed to progress beyond the group stage--the national team struggles to compete with the world's top teams.

The Japan Rugby Football Union must therefore work hard to come up with effective measures to improve standards with an eye on the next decade.

One way to strengthen the national team would be the fielding of foreign players. Foreign rugby players would be eligible to play for Japan as long as they have not played for any other national team and have played in Japan for at least three years consecutively.

However, if there are too many foreign players in the national team, people may feel the thrill of cheering on their country's own players at the World Cup is diminished.


Investing in success

It is difficult to argue that rugby is particularly popular in Japan, with many members of the public likely to say they only watch the latter stages of the national university championship early in the New Year on TV.

To broaden the sport's fan base, it is essential that the nation's players improve their skill levels and battle hard in games.

The Japan Rugby Football Union is due to make an about 15 billion yen host guarantee payment to the International Rugby Board. Meanwhile, the construction and upgrading of venue facilities will require huge investment.

A further issue is how attractive rugby will appear to businesses and other groups whose support is being sought.

The nation also has been bidding to host the 2016 Olympic Games and a soccer World Cup. If Tokyo is chosen to host the Games in 2016, a new stadium with a capacity of 100,000 is expected to be built in the city's Harumi district. Using the same stadium for the Rugby World Cup would save on costs.

The host city of the 2016 Games will be announced in October. We hope that Tokyo will win, helped on by the successful bid to host the Rugby World Cup.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 2, 2009)
(2009年8月2日01時46分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2009-08-02 08:00 | 英字新聞

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