Tokyo: Organisers have marked 100 days to go before the opening of the Rugby World Cup by saying the challenges of staging the sport’s showpiece event in a non-traditional rugby nation have largely been overcome, most particularly with ticket sales.
The September 20-November 2 tournament will feature 20 teams playing across 12 cities stretching from Japan’s northern main island of Hokkaido to Kyushu in the southwest.
“Obviously, there was a bit of a language and cultural challenge early on,” World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper said. “There was probably not a lot of big-event experience here other than the 2002 [football] World Cup but I think those challenges have dissipated over time.”
It’s the first time the event will be held outside of the traditional rugby strongholds, having started in 1987 with a Rugby World Cup held jointly by Australia and New Zealand. The tournament has also been hosted across Britain and Ireland, France and South Africa.
Ticket sales were a big concern early on but according to organisers, about 5.5 million applications have already been made for 1.8 million available tickets. World Rugby said in a statement that 80 per cent of available tickets have been sold with unprecedented demand from fans in more than 170 countries.