World Rugby are set to announce China will host 2019 Rugby World Cup, following ‘significant and disturbing evidence’ from independent visits by Animal Welfare Organisations to venues that were set to host the tournament in Japan.
The sudden decision will come as a shock to most players, fans and officials, most notably Japan, who will now lose their place as a participating country at 2019 Rugby World Cup to China, ranked 68th in the world rankings. China will therefore become the lowest ranked nation to appear at Rugby World Cup.
Extensive research conducted at notable stadiums in the Kanto region that were in line to host 2019 Rugby World Cup, including Yokohama Stadium, Tokyo Stadium and Kumagaya Stadium indicated an abnormal level of underground mammals residing under the surface of the field. Widespread setts of the Asian Badger, a species predominantly native to parts of central Asia such as Mongolia and Kazakhstan, were found residing underneath the surface at some venues.
Guidance from the Japan Residential & Farm Union (JRFU), a NPO dedicated to protecting and safeguarding the lives of underground mammals in Japan and East Asia, issued a stern warning to World Rugby, which has not been taken lightly.
Under pressure from the JRFU and several other animal welfare charities, World Rugby will announce in the coming days the decision to move next year’s tournament to China. It is understood South Africa and USA were also candidates to host the competition at short notice, however, World Rugby were keen to keep the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Asia to grow the game in the continent.
It is no secret that World Rugby are keen to grow the game of rugby in Asia, with 140,986 children taking part in World Rugby’s Get into Rugby programme in 2017. Significant investment from Alisports has paved the way for numerous training facilities to built across the country. China Rugby Football Union are understood to be in discussions with Hong Kong Rugby Football Union about merging unions to create a stronger team to face Europe 2 in the opening game of the tournament in Guangzhou.