World Rugby has today (Wednesday) appointed Rob Abernethy to the role of general manager of Japan’s staging of the 2019 World Cup.
Based full-time in Tokyo, the Australian executive will oversee day-to-day management of the tournament organisers having been recruited from the position of deputy managing director at Singapore Sports Hub.
Abernethy will be responsible for supporting and assisting the Japan Rugby Football Union and organising committee, Japan Rugby 2019, as they seek to deliver an event in accordance with World Rugby’s requirements and all contractual obligations and agreed standards.
Abernethy brings a wealth of major event experience to the post, having aided the delivery of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, England, Australia’s 2003 Rugby World Cup, and the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Tournament director Alan Gilpin said: “Rugby World Cup 2019 promises to be a game-changing event for rugby. It is the first time the tournament is being held in Asia and it presents an enormous opportunity for us to grow the game beyond its traditional heartlands.
“This role requires a proven ability to manage relationships with a wide range of people in a fast-paced and often challenging environment. Through the recruitment process, Rob showed himself to be an outstanding candidate with a proven track record of delivering world-class events against a demanding set of targets and objectives.”
World Rugby, the global governing body of rugby union, in June praised preparations for the 2019 World Cup, stating that Japan was already ahead of previous hosts in a number of areas at the same stage of planning.
In September 2015, World Rugby approved a revised roadmap submitted by Japan for the staging of the World Cup which will see Yokohama replace Tokyo as the venue for the tournament’s final. The 72,000-seat Yokohama Stadium, venue for the 2002 Fifa World Cup final, will now host the finale of World Rugby’s showpiece national team tournament. The Tokyo Stadium will act as a replacement for the National Stadium and will now host the World Cup’s opening ceremony, as well as the first game of the tournament.
World Rugby had been forced to reassess plans for the World Cup after the 80,000-seat National Stadium, which was set to be the centrepiece of the tournament ahead of Tokyo’s hosting of the 2020 Olympic Games, was removed as a host venue for the rugby union showpiece. The decision came in July 2015 following Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s move to shelve the original design amid concerns over spiralling costs – a development which meant a new venue would not be ready in time for the 2019 World Cup.