The Japanese RFU are visiting Murrayfield in the latest stage of their historic bid to stage the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

The Japanese team will present their plans to the Scottish RU ahead of the final decision on the 2011 destination next month.

The visit comes as the bid received a boost from UK politicians to go alongside the endorsements of famous playing names.

Among those who have backed Japan’s bid are Ieuan Evans, Martin Johnson, Nick Farr-Jones, John Kirwan and Jason Leonard.

Now 70 MPs in the House of Commons have also joined the list, signing an Early Day Motion in support of the Japanese bid.

Koji Tokumasu, CEO of the Japanese RFU, said: “We are delighted by the fantastic support we have received.

“Our bid is all about making rugby a truly global game, so to receive backing from representatives from around the world is crucial.

“The MPs too realize what a Rugby World Cup could do for the sport – not just for the few weeks of the tournament, but for generations to come.”

Mr Tokumasu will be among the key speakers as the JRFU present their case in Edinburgh.

The Japanese team will focus on the bid’s five key strengths:

·      Japan’s unrivalled recent experience of hosting the world’s greatest sporting events;

·      offering rugby supporters all over the world the experience of a lifetime in a new destination;

·      offering “an even playing field”, where every visiting union will have an equal chance of playing success;

·      the huge and long-lasting commercial benefits of a Rugby World Cup in Japan;

·      and taking rugby global by developing it in Asia, home to 60 per cent of the world’s population.

Japan have already made their official presentations to the Irish, Welsh and English Unions this week in a bid to take the tournament to Asia for the first time.

NOTES TO EDITORS

The first match played in Japan was in 1899. The Japanese RFU was formed in 1926 and its national side has appeared in all five of the previous Rugby World Cups (1987, 1991, 1995, 1999, 2003).

Japan has 126,000 registered players – the fifth highest total in world rugby. The country boasts 4,000 clubs.

Japan co-hosted the 2002 football World Cup. FIFA president Sepp Blatter said: “Fans from all over the world, our business partners, guests, media, coaches and players alike experienced a stupendous football festival.”

England’s 2003 World Cup winning captain Martin Johnson is fully behind Japan’s bid. He said: “Japan is a big rugby-playing nation and giving the country the World Cup could take the game to a new level globally,” said Johnson.

“It would be a new venue for a lot of rugby supporters – a whole new experience for everyone connected with the tournament. Japan showed during the football World Cup that they can handle the occasion and I think they’ll do it brilliantly in 2011.”

Peter Wheeler, the former England international and Leicester chief executive, believes a successful Japanese bid would leave a lasting legacy for the global game.

Wheeler said: “I played my first game in an England shirt against Japan at Osaka.  I have been very impressed not by just the details of the grounds and infrastructure that would be used, but also with its vision of how Japan 2011 would help the development of rugby world-wide.”

Jason Leonard, a veteran of four World Cup campaigns with England, is another high-profile supporter. He said: “If you really want to turn rugby into a global sport then this has got to happen. I have played in Japan for the Barbarians in the mid-1990s and had a great time.

“It is a great place to tour. We had some really hard games out there but the biggest thing about this bid is opening the game up to a global audience. That is the issue.”

Ieuan Evans, who won 72 caps for Wales said: “The chance to stage the World Cup in Japan is an opportunity that rugby cannot afford to turn down.

I don’t believe the international rugby community can afford to be a private members club, if we really want to promote the game beyond its traditional strongholds and prove we’re now a truly global sport.  Rugby world cup 2011 can grasp the opportunity to be a truly global event.”

Nick Farr-Jones, Australia’s 1991 World Cup-winning captain said: “The Japanese will rally to support a game that is seen as honourable and has a huge corporate culture.

”This, coupled with the opportunity for northern and southern hemisphere supporters to meet on neutral ground, will ensure grounds are full.”

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