With exactly a year to go to the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan the organisers are unusually bullish. For the first time rugby’s premier tournament is heading for Asia, with all the gospel-spreading potential that involves. There is talk of the event being the most economically impactful in the sport’s history and the knock-out stages, in particular, could be truly spectacular. “We’re confident that Asia’s first World Cup will be very special and successful,” says Brett Gosper, World Rugby’s chief executive.
There is just one niggling unknown for administrators, tourism officials, coaches and fans alike: the weather. September, when the tournament kicks off, is one of the peak months for chaotic conditions in Japan, with an average of three major tropical cyclones per year hitting the country’s main islands. This month the biggest storm for 25 years struck Kobe and Osaka, both of which will be hosting World Cup games, leaving a trail of death and significant travel disruption in its wake.
Conditions were so extreme that, had it been 12 months later, neither of the team camps allocated to Italy or the USA in Osaka would have been available for use.