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With anticipation and excitement building across the host nation, the Webb Ellis Cup visited Mount Fuji for the iconic image that will be liked and shared around the world.
And today, the Cup will be unveiled this morning to the public at Shibuya 109 – one of central Tokyo’s busiest and most recognisable landmarks – kicking off a 46-day tour of the host nation.
From Sapporo City in the north to Kumamoto in the south, from Fukuoka to Kamaishi and many more places in between, the cup will be the guest of honour as this exciting festival travels the length and breadth of Japan. In all, the following prefectures will be visited: Tokyo, Saitama, Oita, Shizuoka, Iwate, Kumamoto, Osaka, Aichi, Hyogo, Fukuoka, Sapporo and Kanagawa.
The festival will reach a fitting climax at the international stadium in Yokohama, coinciding with the Japan v Australia match on 4 November, almost two years to the day before the Rugby World Cup 2019 final is played at the very same venue.
The festival will encourage the sports-loving nation to connect through rugby, create lasting memories and celebrate the hosting of what will be the biggest sporting event to be held in the Land of the Rising Sun for nearly 20 years.
World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “Two years to go is an exciting milestone for people in the host nation and fans around the world and I am delighted that Japan are marking it with a special nationwide festival that will engage and inspire people the length and breadth of the host nation.”
“It also represents an important time in preparation for one hosting one of the world’s biggest and best-loved major sports events. Later this year we will announce the match schedule and launch details of the ticketing programme, events that will enable teams and fans to truly start to plan their Rugby World Cup 2019 experience.”
Japan has captured the imagination of fans around the world and with up to 400,000 international visitors anticipated to visit Japan during the 48-day tournament, the family of official Supporter Tour providers will be announced by World Rugby and STH tomorrow.
It is also anticipated that the match schedule and ticketing programme will be announced before the end of the year, meaning that fans will be able to plan their Rugby World Cup 2019 experience in earnest.
Beaumont added: "Japan 2019 will be a tournament that has teams and fans at heart. It will be special. It will be ground-breaking and it will be the catalyst for rugby growth across Asia."
With a goal of attracting and retaining one million participants in Asis by the time Japan 2019 kicks-off, World Rugby, Asia Rugby, and the JRFU are delivering initiatives that support that aim via the ambitious IMPACT Beyond 2019 programme.