Rugby | Japan face long wait for Jones replacement

Eddie Jones (AP)

London – Japan may have to wait until next year to name a replacement for former coach Eddie Jones to take them into their campaign to host the 2019 Rugby World Cup, their federation chief said on Tuesday.

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Jones, who masterminded the biggest upset in World Cup history when Japan beat South Africa 34-32 and narrowly missed out on the World Cup quarter finals, is leaving in days to take over Super Rugby franchise the Stormers in South Africa.

Japan Rugby Football Union chairperson Noriyuku Sakamoto said the ‘Brave Blossoms’ had not wanted the 55-year-old Australian to leave.

“We had a discussion and found that he had already made a decision, so we respect his decision,” Sakamoto told AFP on the sidelines of a ceremony to unveil the rising sun logo for the 2019 World Cup.

“We are looking at the selection of a new coach,” he added.

“We would like to announce it before the end of this year but we don’t know if we will be able to. That is our hope.”

When asked whether they were looking to hire another foreign coach he again said no decision had been made. “Watch this space.”

World Rugby said the Japan World Cup would start on September 20, 2019 and finish on November 2.

After controversy over the draw for the current World Cup, made three years ago and which threw Australia, England and Wales into the same first round pool, World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper said no decision had been made on when the draw for the Japan tournament had been made.

The atmosphere is a lot more relaxed since tension surfaced over Japan’s decision to delay the building of a national stadium, which was to have been used for the 2019 final.

The hosts resolved the embarrassing blip by nominating Yokohama Stadium – which hosted the 2002 football World Cup final – to be the venue for the final and Tokyo Stadium to host the opening match.

Gosper highlighted the success of the Japanese team in England and their win over South Africa which was one of three victories for them.

They are the only team to win three pool games and miss out on the knockout stages.

“I’m sure they will make Hollywood films of that one day (the win over the Springboks),” he said.

“They (Japan) have got the whole nation behind them now, that wasn’t the case before this World Cup.”

There are 12 venues in Japan and Rugby World Cup head Alan Gilpin said the plan was to hold at least two matches at each one.

Akira Shimazu, chief executive of the Japan Rugby World Cup organisers, said the aim was to make Japan “the land of the rising scrum.”

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