Rugby World Cup can reap the benefits of Japan's Olympic fever - Williams


Japan's year in the sporting spotlight is fast approaching.

In the space of 12 months - starting in September 2019 - the Asian nation will play host to two of the biggest sports events on the planet.

Ahead of Tokyo's staging of the Olympic Games in 2020, cities across the country will play their part as the Rugby World Cup breaks new ground.

The tournament will be the first time World Rugby has taken the showpiece outside the sport's traditional hot beds, with the governing body eyeing an opportunity to capitalise on the game's growing profile in Japan, which was aided by the national team's historic win against South Africa at the 2015 World Cup in England.

Wales great Shane Williams spent three years playing in Japan towards the end of his career and believes holding the World Cup in the country in the build-up to the Olympics could make the most of a nationwide clamour for sport.

"I just think it's a great time to go over there," Williams told Omnisport. "They've obviously spent a lot of money in preparation for the Olympics and they'll have the World Cup before that. That's perfect timing as far as I'm concerned.

"It means everything is going to be ready for both events.

"And the whole country is just something that you will never have experienced before in your life. It's very unique.


"The fact that they have the Olympics after it... everyone's going to be ready. All the sporting fans in Japan are going to be ready for this Olympics and will jump on the rugby bandwagon.

"What you find with the Japanese fans and supporters is that, if they think there's a match on or something's happening, everyone will come and support it.

"It doesn't matter who's playing, they'll support anyone. They'll put the jerseys on and they'll enjoy it. I think that will reflect on the World Cup itself."

And Williams believes the tournament will be all the better for being played in front of a new audience.

"I've been to a number of World Cups now in big rugby nations," he added. "However, Japan is a country that is growing in respect to rugby but they're completely fanatical about the things they put on.

"They're going to really embrace it, make sure that everyone enjoys it and wants to come back to Japan.

"Having experienced Japan for three years and seen the kind of festivals and events they do there, I just think it could be amazing and very different to any other World Cup we've ever seen. I'm looking forward to it."


With Rugby World Cup 2019 on the horizon, Shane tackles the best Japan has to offer in his new online series Shane Williams: Big In Japan

To discover the wonders of Japan for yourself: #EndlessDiscovery