Japan the Pacific Nations Cup hosts
Preparations for Japan's staging of World Cup 2019 have been further boosted after the International Rugby Board announced that the 2012 IRB Pacific Nations Cup will be hosted by the Japan.
The awarding of the marquee international tournament demonstrates the JRFU's commitment to successfully delivering major Rugby events in the run up to World Cup 2019. It also underscores the massive growth potential within Asia - a Region that has experienced an 18 per cent uplift in participation since 2007.
The announcement comes off the back of the JRFU's successful hosting of the Tokyo leg of the Sevens World Series - the first international Sevens event to be hosted in the country in 11 years. It is also a strong endorsement of the Union's operational and organisational skills as Rugby World Cup 2019 planning and preparation continues to advance on track.
It also provides a welcome and timely boost for Rugby across Japan after the 2011 IRB Pacific Nations Cup was reluctantly moved from the country to allow the Union to concentrate on assisting the Rugby community affected by the devastating earthquake and tsunami in March last year.
"We are delighted that Japan is to host this major international championship. The awarding of this event not only underscores the great appetite for showcase Rugby events in Japan, but also demonstrates the JRFU's intentions to reach out to new Rugby fans across Japan and wider Asia as we look towards Rugby World Cup 2019," said IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset.
"These are exciting times for Rugby in Asia and the Pacific Islands. The IRB Pacific Nations Cup was introduced in 2006 to provide an expanded high-level competition calendar for Fiji, Japan, Samoa and Tonga and therefore increase the competitiveness of Rugby World Cup. In that regard it has been a success story for the IRB and Participating Unions, demonstrating that our strategic investment programme is working. The IRB Pacific Nations Cup is now a hugely anticipated event in the Rugby calendar in its own right."
Eddie Jones commented: "This is a new era for Japan Rugby and the Japan national team as we build towards Rugby World Cup 2019. The hosting of the IRB Pacific Nations Cup on home soil represents a great opportunity for us to move forward - to develop a truly Japanese style of Rugby with a young squad full of talent.
"We are looking forward to competing in the competition and bringing top class international Rugby to the Japanese people. Samoa and Tonga are ahead of us in the IRB World Rankings and we respect Fiji greatly. It will be very competitive."