Japan elated to win vote to host 2019 World Cup

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan’s bid leaders expressed delight at winning Tuesday’s vote to stage the 2019 rugby World Cup and become the tournament’s first Asian hosts.

The International Rugby Board (IRB) awarded the 2015 tournament to England after following the recommendation of organisers for the next two World Cups.

“The God of rugby smiled on us today,” said Japan Rugby Football Union (JRFU) president Yoshiro Mori after the IRB’s announcement in Dublin.

“I am filled with emotion to be a part of this historic day for Japan and for rugby around the world.”

South Africa and Italy also tendered bids for the 2015 and 2019 World Cups but were considered outsiders.

“I feel extremely excited and proud as a Japanese. The government will cooperate fully to help create a wonderful World Cup that will bring hope and enthusiasm to many young people,” Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso said in a statement.

Rugby World Cup Limited (RWCL) last month named England, bidding only for 2015, and Japan as its preferred hosts for the next two tournaments.

“I thank the IRB for taking this step towards the globalisation of rugby,” Japan’s bid committee chairman Nobby Mashimo said.

“Japan has much to offer the rugby World Cup. We have a superb transport system, strong infrastructure and world-class stadiums.

“We are honoured to welcome the global rugby family to our country and for the first time ever to Asia.”

Japan, Asia’s top rugby nation, were narrowly beaten by New Zealand in the voting for the 2011 tournament and were expected to be front-runners to host the 2015 edition.

Japanese officials expressed satisfaction at RWCL’s recommendation to bring the World Cup to Asia for the first time in 2019.

A recent report conducted by Deloitte calculated that the World Cup could generate more than 2 billion pounds in economic benefits for the host nation.

Editing by Clare Fallon and Nigel Hunt;