World Cup boost for England

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England moved a giant step closer to hosting the 2015 Rugby World Cup after tournament organisers recommended their bid to the International Rugby Board.

The Rugby Football Union held off competition from South Africa, Italy and Japan to receive the endorsement from Rugby World Cup Limited.

The final decision will be made by the IRB's council on 28 July.

Japan have been recommended as hosts for the 2019 World Cup.

World Cup (RWCL) organisers believe a combination of England and Japan provides "the best balanced combination of hosts for the continued worldwide development of the game."

England's commercial power would allow RWCL to maximise their revenues in 2015, allowing them to take the World Cup to an emerging nation for the first time four years later.

RWCL chairman Bernard Lapasset said: "As the revenue generated from RWC is vital to the IRB's ongoing development plans (there is a preference for it) to be held in one of the major rugby markets on a regular basis.

"However, the commercial success of RWC also means we can now consider placing the tournament in developing rugby markets to both reflect and assist the game's continued strategic growth.

"It is all about finding the right combination. The IRB Council's decision to award two tournaments simultaneously has assisted in that vision.

"A tournament in England would allow the IRB to maximise funding available for investment in the game through a strong commercial programme and a great RWC showcase.

"In the heart of the UK's proposed Decade of Sport, RWCL believe the RFU will deliver a RWC that will capture the imagination, attract strong attendances at superb venues and maximise the festival experience for the millions of attending supporters.

"In finalising the recommendation for RWC 2019, the RWCL Board believe a World Cup in Japan would provide a gateway to the further development and expansion of the game in Asia, reaching out to new young fans and providing a superb spectacle for the sport."

England would use iconic stadia such as Wembley, Anfield, Old Trafford and the Emirates Stadium for the tournament, with the final to be played at Twickenham.

The UK's so-called 'decade of sport' began this year with England hosting the Twenty20 World Cup and includes the 2012 Olympics, the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and potentially the 2018 football World Cup.

RFU chairman Martyn Thomas said: "The RFU is delighted that Rugby World Cup Limited has decided to recommend England to the IRB Council as the host for RWC 2015.

"When we presented to the council in May we said that in the current difficult economic environment we could deliver a low-risk, high-return tournament that would leave a lasting legacy for the global game.

"We would like to reiterate that commitment and promise that we will pack iconic stadia full of excited fans and that we will give the game the best possible global platform on which to showcase itself to the world.

"We are truly excited about the opportunity to host the third largest sporting tournament in the world and fervently hope that the recommendation is accepted in July."

In their announcement today, the RWC board indicated a strong preference for all future World Cups to be staged in one country, "unless compelling reasons can be presented".

The RFU are confident that would not affect England's plan to use the Millennium Stadium as there would be no co-hosting arrangement with the Welsh Rugby Union.

Japan want to split one of the pools between Hong Kong and Singapore with the aim of making the tournament a pan-Asian event, which the IRB are likely to accept as a compelling reason.

Lapasset added: "The RWCL board believes that a Rugby World Cup in Japan would provide a gateway to the further development and expansion of the game in Asia, reaching out to new young fans and providing a superb spectacle for the sport.

"The JRFU recently hosted a record-breaking IRB Junior World Championship and has demonstrated that it has the ability to deliver an outstanding tournament in 2019.

"With a 10-year lead time, RWCL and the JRFU would have the time needed to create and develop the framework for an outstanding RWC tournament to provide lasting legacies in Japan and Asia."