(ISN) – Fourteen cities the length and breadth of Japan have applied to host matches at Rugby World Cup 2019, Japan Rugby 2019, the tournament’s organising body has announced.

With the submission phase of the bidding process for the hosting of matches now closed, each application will be closely assessed with the successful cities or prefectures being announced in the first quarter of next year.

From Sapporo City in the north of the country right down to Nagasaki and Kumamoto in the south, there is a genuine geographical spread of proposed venues, meaning that fans will be at the very heart of the event, and there is also a healthy mix of stadium capacities ranging from 80,000 in Tokyo to 15,000 at Kamaishi City in the Iwate Prefecture.

The full list of applicants is: Sapporo City, Iwate Prefecture and Kamaishi City, Sendai City, Saitama Prefecture and Kumagaya City, Tokyo, Shizuoka Prefecture, Aichi Prefecture and Toyota City, Osaka Prefecture and Higashi Osaka City, Kyoto City, Kobe City, Fukuoka City, Oita Prefecture, Kumamoto Prefecture and Kumamoto City, Nagasaki Prefecture.

Rugby World Cup 2019 Chairman Bernard Lapasset welcomed the announcement: “It is very encouraging for us to note the huge level of interest in Japan to host matches for rugby’s showcase event. The fact that the tournament has the full backing of local and national government is particularly pleasing and it is essential for its success. Japan has a strong history of delivering world-class sports events with an excellent infrastructure, state-of-the-art venues and people who love to engage and be part of the celebration.”

Chief Executive of Japan Rugby 2019 Akira Shimazu said: “The standards required to host matches at Rugby World Cup are very high but, nevertheless, many local governments have submitted applications. I am confident that despite any challenges each applicant may face, they will be up to the task. I am truly grateful for their interest in hosting the Rugby World Cup 2019. The host cities will be our full partners, and we will select them in a fair and comprehensive process to ensure a Rugby World Cup that is successful nationwide and worldwide.”

About Japan Rugby 2019: Japan Rugby 2019 was established as the tournament organiser for Rugby World Cup 2019. The board of JR 2019 is made up of leading figures from the sports, business and government sectors of Japan and it is steering the delivery of the tournament ensuring that all operational and legacy goals are delivered in line with the event strategic and master plan. Rugby World Cup 2019 will break new ground as it will be the first time that rugby’s showcase event has been staged in Asia.

About Rugby World Cup: Rugby World Cup is the financial engine behind unprecedented investment and growth in Rugby worldwide. The net Rugby World Cup surplus from the commercial success of France 2007 and New Zealand 2011 has enabled the International Rugby Board to invest more than £150 million in the game between 2009 and 2012 and commit an anticipated injection of more than £180 million between 2013 and 2016 to underwrite a large range of major funding initiatives including annual national Union grants and strategic investments focusing on growing participation and increasing competition across all 121 national member unions affiliated to the IRB.