2019 Rugby World Cup
Gosper backs 2019 RWC to wake 'sleeping giant'
ESPN Staff
February 27, 2014
Brett Gosper has high hopes for the 2019 Rugby World Cup © Getty Images

IRB CEO Brett Gosper admits the crowds in Japan are a "long way off what you need for a Rugby World Cup" but is confident the 2019 tournament will stir a "sleeping giant".

While much of the focus is on the 2015 Rugby World Cup, Japan are starting to prepare for the next global gathering. Gosper hopes the effect on the country's rugby scene will be similar to the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

"Soccer wasn't that big before then but it really woke people up," Gosper told Kyodo News, referring to the World Cup the country co-hosted with South Korea. "Our research shows the Japanese love big events and that they turn up more than others to get a sense of the event. And I am sure it's possible to do that again with rugby."

Gosper added: "Japan is a rugby nation and while it is true the crowds are not what they once were, and a long way off what you need for a Rugby World Cup, there is a good knowledge and image of the sport here.

"I believe it is a sleeping giant that needs to wake up, and I think an event like the Rugby World Cup can wake up that latent interest."

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