AFP PHOTO

World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont has lauded Japan 2019 as “probably the greatest Rugby World Cup”.

The six-week event, the first to be staged in Asia in the World Cup’s 32-year history, culminated with South Africa hammering England 32-12 in Yokohama on Saturday as they clinched a third global title.

“Japan 2019 will be remembered as probably the greatest Rugby World Cup,” said Beaumont during the tournament’s closing press conference in Tokyo on Sunday.

“It has certainly been the most ground-breaking in terms of bringing the game to new audiences and attracting new fans to the sport.

“It has been amazing what we’ve experienced over the last six weeks, culminating in an outstanding final.”

France will stage the 2023 edition, with Beaumont confirming a dual bidding process will start late next year for the 2027 and 2031 World Cups.

Japan was awarded the right to stage the 2019 World Cup a decade ago as part of the same process that saw the 2015 edition go to England, rugby union’s birthplace.

Now officials hope that a split between a World Cup in an established rugby nation and an emerging one could be repeated with a view to taking the tournament to either the United States or Argentina for the first time.

“As we look to the future, I can confirm today that the Rugby World Council has approved the implementation of a dual host selection process for 2027 and 2031,” Beaumont said.

“The dual selection process will be launched in November 2020 and will enable World Rugby to select an optimal combination of hosts rather like what we’ve achieved here,” the former England captain added.

Meanwhile World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper, reflecting on the success of Japan 2019, said: “Is this the greatest World Cup ever? Certainly the statistics would say that it is.

“More than 1.7 billion social media views, a world record TV audience, 99 percent stadium attendance. 1.2 million in the fanzones.

“Possibly the largest digital sports event of 2019, with 1.8 million new participants in Asia and 770,000 new participants in Japan.”

As for the financial strength of this World Cup, the Australian added it had been responsible for a “record tourism and economic impact boost of $400 billion”, while the £2 million raised for the ChildFund Pass It Back scheme was also a record for the tournament’s corporate social responsibility programme.

– ‘Most competitive’ –

Gosper also proclaimed Japan 2019 the “most competitive World Cup ever” with the average winning margin between Tier One and Tier Two nations reduced to a new low of 30.5 points.

“More than just that, Japan 2019 showed the power of a nation that really did dare to dream,” Gosper added.

“We really hope that other unions find the courage to throw their hats in the ring to host the tournament.”

Japan, following on their shock win over South Africa four years ago — the biggest upset in World Cup history — beat both Ireland and Scotland as they became the first Asian side to reach the quarter-finals before succumbing to the Springboks.

The Brave Blossoms’ success had reopened the debate about whether Japan should join the southern hemisphere’s Rugby Championship or even Europe’s Six Nations.

“There has been much talk about the future of the Brave Blossoms,” said Beaumont.

“We will do everything in our power to support them and all emerging teams to get regular access… to high-level competitions.

“Japan will have matches against England, Ireland and Scotland in the next 12 months.

“The international calendar is something that is an evolving thing.”