Thursday, March 5, 2015

RWC: Comparing Japan 2019 venues with Argentina 2023

Image News on Japan
Monday's big unveiling of the twelve host cities of Rugby World Cup 2019 was highly significant. The global governing body of the sport, World Rugby confirmed the stadia for the biggest sporting event of 2019 and, in doing so, made history. Never before have the venues for a future Rugby World Cup been known while there is another tournament to be played first. Indeed the venues for Rugby World Cup 2011 were made public in May 2009, two years before the event while Japan has twice as much time before it hosts. The advanced planning is aimed at making the tournament as successful as possible. The selected venues offer very good news for the possible Rugby World Cup Argentina 2023.

Japan's proposal offered to World Rugby in 2008 was notably different to the final outcome when considering venues. In winning the bid in 2009 the Japanese Rugby Football Union (JRFU) had included both Hong Kong and Singapore as sub-hosts n its bid but neither Asian country will host any matches. 

In seeking to expand on the growing legitimacy of rugby as a global sport World Rugby has overseen a venue allocation process which will see 2019 being the first year in which a Rugby World Cup in the Northern Hemisphere is hosted by just one nation. The significant change means that for the first time Wales will not be involved in the staging of a Rugby World Cup outside of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. 

The selected eleven venues represents a marking down from the thirteen stadiums that are to host World Cup matches later on this year. Rugby World Cup 2011 also had thirteen venues while Rugby World Cup 2007 had twelve, of which ten were French. The 2007 model of distribution within France offered was nationwide with all venues being allocated either three or four matches. 

England 2015 has a vastly different look to it with Manchester having only secured one match compare to London will host seventeen matches spread across three stadiums. Rugby World cup 2015 tournament organizers confronted serious difficulties in acquiring the use of soccer stadiums which resulted in the Millennium Stadium, located in neighboring Wales, being included and securing eight matches. 

World Rugby and the JRFU have worked together to carefully select 2019 venues to ensure all matches are to take place in Japan. Missing from the list of twelve is the regular home venue of the Japanese team, Chichibunomia Stadium. It has ben excluded in favor of two much larger venues located in the Greater Tokyo, or Kanto, Metropolitan area. 2019 will thus return to the policy used by Australia, France and New Zealand in Rugby World Cups 2003, 2007 and 2011 of having the host nation's largest city allocated two venues. 

The 72,300 capacity stadium in Yokohama hosted the 2002 FIFA World Cup Final and is to return to sporting prowess but in a supporting role in 2019. With a capacity of 80,000 the new Tokyo National Stadium is to be he centre-piece of the World Cup in Japan. As shown in the following video the two venues are supported by ten others with one of which being located in Kumagaya, a city slightly outside of the Japanese capital's Greater Metropolitan area in a similar manner to that of La Plata compared to Buenos Aires. 

The three venues located in and around Greater Metropolitan Tokyo will be joined by Saporro on the northern island of Hokkaido as well Kamaishi City in northern Honshu. Kobe, Osaka, Shizuoka and Toyota are additional Honshu cities while Fukuoka, Kumamoto and Oita selected as three host cities from the souhern Japanese island of Kyushu.

Such an approach is similar to how Argentina 2023 could operate. Like Japan, Argentina has it's capital city as its commercial center with it being notably larger than all other cities in the country. it then has general regional centers to the north and west of Tokyo and in Kyushu. A World Cup in Argentina could see the greater capital region joined by the populated regions of the west, north, and litoral.

Japan's twelve venues are a combination of some of the largest and most spectacular stadiums in the country with a number of smaller venues which have been selected in preference of some what are, at times, much larger venues in the same cities. Osaka, for instance will have the 30,000 capacity Hanazona Rugby Stadium hosting matches rather than the 50,000 Nagai Stadium which hosted FIFA World Cup matches in 2002.

World Rugby has answered the question as to whether or not it is satisfied with having athletics stadiums host matches. Tokyo, Yokohama, Kumagaya, Kumamoto, Shizuoka and Oita all have athletics tracks. Both the Monumental (River Plate) in Buenos Aires and Córdoba should therefore be considered entirely appropriate venues for the possible Argentina 2023.

An additional curiosity is the allocation of matches to six venues that were not included in the bid. The same policy saw Brighton and Exeter allocated matches for Rugby World Cup 2015 after not having been in England's bid. Argentina's ready-made list of stadiums ought to therefore place confidence in regional and global authorities as a presentable list of stadiums exists at present and these stadiums, as shown in the video below, have a history in hosting test match rugby.

Overall the final twelve Japanese venues have a very similar capacity to those that could be utilized for the possible Rugby World Cup Argentina 2023. Japan is to have six Level 1 stadiums, three Level 2 and three Level 3 stadiums. Argentina's possible option, as shown in the table, is similar with there being six Level 1 stadiums, three Level 2 and two Level three. Overall Japan's venues have a combined seating of 484,700 compared to 468,260 for Argentina and an average capacity of 40,301 compared to Argentina's 39,021.

With an extensive rugby history dating back over a century, a detailed list of stadiums and having the world's best team never to have played at home in a Rugby World Cup Argentina 2023 would appear to be a very compelling option. Japan 2019 is a fundamentally important step for the sport to end the Five Nations - Tri Nations back-and-forth hosting that extends from 1987-2015. It will, however, mean the Northern Hemisphere hosts two Rugby Worlds Cups in succession. Many options exist but none can match that of Argentina 2023.

Japan 2019
Argentina 2023
Buenos Aires 
Bs Aires - Velez
La Plata
Mar del Plata
San Juan
Santa Fé
Resistencia (Chaco)

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