Brave new world: Japan braces for ‘anything-can-happen’ World Cup | Robert Kitson

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The defending champions New Zealand look mortal and the chasing pack sense the opportunity to lift the Webb Ellis Cup

The sumo wrestlers of Japan will have competition for the next seven weeks. Suddenly there will be big men everywhere, blocking out the light and vying for mass attention. The first Rugby World Cup to be staged in Asia is the most significant in history for those trying to promote the oval-ball gospel beyond its familiar heartlands. To ensure that happens the 2019 tournament has to make its presence felt.

It is not just about conquering new markets, either. Make no mistake, rugby union is changing almost as fast as the latest high-speed bullet trains out of Tokyo station. The 2015 tournament is long gone; 2011 is effectively old testament. Even New Zealand, going for a third successive win, cannot rely on the exact same blueprint that has worked for them over the past decade.

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Written by Robert Kitson
This news first appeared on https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2019/sep/14/rugby-world-cup-japan-new-zealand-england-eddie-jones-wales-ireland under the title “Brave new world: Japan braces for ‘anything-can-happen’ World Cup | Robert Kitson”. Bolchha Nepal is not responsible or affiliated towards the opinion expressed in this news article.