The 1995 hosts, and champions, South Africa put forward a bold and comprehensive bid to host the tournament for a second time, but Rugby World Cup Limited (RWCL) has announced its decision to recommend England to the IRB Council as host of Rugby World Cup 2015 and Japan as host of Rugby World Cup 2019.
The Japanese were rightly angry to have missed out to New Zealand as hosts of the 2011 World Cup, but have now been given the chance to follow up the success they made of staging this summer's Junior World Championship by hosting the world's third biggest sporting event in 10 years time.
The recommendation comes after a comprehensive tender analysis process involving detailed technical and strategic evaluation and independent financial, commercial and legal analysis of each of the tenders. RWCL believe they can achieve a balance between funding the global Game and developing new Rugby markets by combining England and Japan's talents.
"All the tenders were of a very high standard and each Union demonstrated that they could host an excellent Rugby World Cup. It is a tribute to the health of the Game and the enormous prestige of RWC that the field was so strong," said RWCL Chairman Bernard Lapasset.
"Both Italy and South Africa submitted comprehensive tenders with very strong Government support and would be capable of hosting outstanding Rugby World Cup tournaments now or in the future. However, there could only be two recommended Unions and after detailed review, the RWCL Board decided that England and Japan would provide the best balanced combination of hosts for the continued worldwide development of the Game."
As the world's third-largest sporting event, Rugby World Cup is the driving force behind the global development of Rugby worldwide. The tournament's commercial success provides the IRB with the platform to invest up to £150 million between 2009-2012 across all 116 Member Unions in the form of annual Union grants and the strategic investment programme that is designed to increase the competitiveness of the Game.
"As the revenue generated from RWC is vital to the IRB's ongoing development plans, the RWCL Board considered in its review process the preference for RWC to be held in one of the major Rugby markets on a regular basis," said Lapasset.
"However, the commercial success of RWC also means that 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 believes that 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 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 ten 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," added Lapasset.
The RWC Board is also recommending that unless compelling reasons can be presented for matches to be held in other territories matches should only be held in the respective Host Unions as a matter of principle.
The recommendation on the RWC 2015 and RWC 2019 Host Unions is the culmination of an extensive analysis process that kicked off in August 2008. The 71-page recommendation report will now be sent to the IRB Council for consideration before it selects the Host Unions for Rugby World Cup 2015 and Rugby World Cup 2019 at a Special Meeting in Dublin on July 28.