In a further boost to preparations for Rugby World Cup 2019, the iconic 72,000-seater stadium in Yokohama has been added to the list of bidders seeking to become venues for rugby’s pinnacle tournament. 

The late application, which came from Yokohama and the Kanagawa Prefecture, has been accepted by Japan Rugby 2019, the tournament’s organising body, bringing the total number of applicants to 15. 

Lying just south-west of Tokyo, Kanagawa is the second most populous prefecture in Japan (nine million people) with Yokohama being its capital city. It will now join the other 14 applications in the assessment phase with the successful cities or prefectures being announced in the first quarter of next year. 

Rugby World Cup Limited Chairman Bernard Lapasset welcomed the announcement: “The international stadium at Yokohama is a world-famous venue and iconic for millions of soccer fans who remember when it staged the FIFA World Cup final between Germany and Brazil in 2002. We are delighted that Yokohama and Kanagawa Prefecture have submitted this application as it further demonstrates how the local governments in every part of Japan are keen to host matches at Rugby World Cup 2019 and welcome the rugby world to their cities. 

“In fact, the full backing of local and national government is essential for the tournament’s success. Japan has a strong history of delivering world-class sports events with an excellent infrastructure, state-of-the-art venues and people who love to engage and be part of the celebration. Momentum is building now towards what is sure to be a wonderful occasion for our sport.” 

Chief Executive of Japan Rugby 2019 Akira Shimazu said: “While we note that the deadline is passed for applications to host matches at Rugby World Cup, we have decided to accept this bid because we want to ensure that the tournament is available to as many sports fans as possible around the country. Yokohama’s bid will now be considered on its individual merits along with all the others.” 

From Sapporo City in the north of the country right down to Nagasaki and Kumamoto in the south, there is a genuine geographical spread of proposed venues, meaning that fans will be at the very heart of the event, and there is also a healthy mix of stadium capacities ranging from 80,000 in Tokyo to 15,000 at Kamaishi City in the Iwate Prefecture. 

The full list of applicants is: Sapporo City, Iwate Prefecture and Kamaishi City, Sendai City, Saitama Prefecture and Kumagaya City, Tokyo, Shizuoka Prefecture, Aichi Prefecture and Toyota City, Osaka Prefecture and Higashi Osaka City, Kyoto City, Kobe City, Fukuoka City, Oita Prefecture, Kumamoto Prefecture and Kumamoto City, Nagasaki Prefecture, Yokohama and Kanagawa Prefecture.