First on EWN: World Rugby confirms SA could host 2019 World Cup

The 2019 Rugby World Cup could be moved to SA if Japan do not provide assurances by the end of this month.

FILE. 2015 Rugby World Cup trophy on board the HMS Iron Duke. Picture by: Aletta Gardner/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The CEO of World Rugby Brett Gosper has told EWN Sport that the 2019 Rugby World Cup could be moved South Africa if Japan do not provide them with assurances by the end of this month that they'll be able to successfully host the tournament.

Gosper was speaking from London on the eve of the 2015 edition of the tournament on the special feature podcast series, Road to Twickenham:

When pushed on whether any formal or informal discussions had taken place specifically with regards to South Africa being asked to step in and host the tournament, he merely said, "We've had no formal discussions."

It's understood though that the South African rugby leadership have been sounded out about the possibility of hosting the tournament having originally lost out to Japan, and having bid alongside Italy.

World Rugby's considering it's position for the showpiece following Japan revising it's plans for the tournament and withdrawing the proposal for the new national stadium to be built in Tokyo.

This venue was to be the centerpiece of the event and would have also formed a key element of the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020.

Gosper insists that no discussions have taken place yet, although it seems inconceivable that World Rugby would not already have started dialogue over a possible replacement for Japan.

"There haven't been any discussions with SA Rugby in itself. Obviously, in the unlikely event that there was an issue in Japan, it would make sense that the first people you would consult would be the other two contenders at the time, which were Italy and South Africa. As I say we don't envisage that being the situation, we are very confident that Japan will deliver on the requests that we've made to them in terms of reassurances on the 2019 World Cup."

Gosper says that they remain optimistic Japan will still be able to meet it's obligations.

"I'm extremely confident that the Japanese will come up with a contingency that will satisfy our requirements but Rugby World Cup's are so important for World Rugby that we have to be absolutely sure of the certainty of our revenue streams flowing from that problem that we've had with the national stadium leaving. We're confident that they'll sort that, they have until the end of September, and the indications that we're getting is that we'll have those reassurances that we require."