England will host the 2015 Rugby World Cup and Japan will stage the event in Asia for the first time four years later, the International Rugby Board (IRB) Council said on Tuesday.
Japan, who lost out to New Zealand in the bidding for the 2011 edition and England, hosts of the 1991 tournament, were awarded the rights ahead of bids from South Africa and Italy.
The controversy of previous decisions caused by the “horse-trading” of votes was avoided as the 26-man IRB Council passed the recommendations of tournament organizers Rugby World Cup Ltd (RWCL) by 16 votes to 10.
The RWCL Board, who were asked to review all the bids, argued last month that England would maximize the event’s commercial possibilities while a first World Cup in Asia would be a huge boost for the development of the game in that region.
“We need two things more importantly now. The first is money for the game and the second is rolling it around the world,” IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said after announcing the winners.
England failed in its bid for the 2007 tournament when France won votes from the Home Unions after promising matches to Wales, Scotland and Ireland while Japan were surprising losers last time out.
Organizers had said they did not want matches to be shared with neighboring countries as has been common previously but IRB chief executive Mike Miller said on Tuesday this could be permitted if financially viable.
While Japan Rugby Football Union chairman Noboru Mashimo said it would review its bid which included playing matches in Singapore and Hong Kong, England will push for the inclusion of Wales’ Millennium Stadium.
“The rules were made clear that all games would be played within the host union unless we were able to make a compelling reason and we are going to make that compelling case for the Millennium Stadium,” England IRB Council member Martyn Thomas told a news conference.
England have also proposed the use of iconic soccer stadiums like Wembley, Old Trafford and Anfield.
The Japanese, who have only won one World Cup match in six tournaments, will also take advantage of facilities used for the successful 2002 soccer World Cup co-hosted with South Korea.
They have again bid to stage the global soccer showpiece in 2018 and 2022, while Tokyo is also in the running for the 2016 Olympics.
“It’s a massive day for Japanese rugby,” national coach John Kirwan told a news conference. “We can now go home and tell 13 and 14 year old kids they can really start dreaming about playing a World Cup in their home country.”
Australia, Ireland and Scotland had shown an initial interest in the two World Cups up for grabs but withdrew before the deadline for bid submissions because of financial pressures.
The IRB requires a fee of £80 million (US$132.3 million) for the 2015 tournament and £96 million for 2019. The board also keeps all commercially generated revenue with the hosts retaining only ticket revenue.
England rugby chief Francis Baron estimated the event would generate £300 million for the RFU, assisted by ticket sales of 2.8 million. Japan believe they can match crowd numbers.
However a recent report conducted by Deloitte calculated the World Cup could generate over £2 billion in economic benefits for the host nation.
“We’ve been trusted to make a great competition in 2015, a great spectacle and to deliver what the IRB needs in terms of revenue,” Thomas said.