By Sir Clive Woodward for the Mail on Sunday
Published: 22:30 BST, 14 September 2019 | Updated: 23:04 BST, 14 September 2019
World Cups are major milestones in our sport — we’ve still only had eight — so it is important that they are successes. They are rugby’s cash cow and they also offer us a snapshot of exactly where the Test game is going, the trends and developments.
So what can we expect in Japan? Well, for me it’s an inspired choice and for all sorts of reasons. If a major sport like rugby is to stage a World Cup every four years, the venues must be truly global, otherwise the competition loses credibility. This will be the first time rugby has ventured outside of one of the major powers and it will be a triumph.
Japan knows how to organise things and have been in Olympic and World Cup mode for a long time now. Their national honour and pride are at stake and they will be brilliant hosts.
World Champions New Zealand pose for photographs outside Zojoji temple in Tokyo
Members of the All Blacks were given a wonderful reception in the Japanese capital
And in addition to that the Cherry Blossoms, riding on the emotion and motivation of that home support, are the one Tier Two nation I feel has a shout at reaching the quarter-finals. On their day they could run Scotland or Ireland very close indeed.
As for playing conditions, yes, Japan can still be hot and humid at this time of year, but the teams have had nine years to prepare so there are no excuses. I actually welcome the conditions and the hard