World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper has admitted that the 2019 Rugby World Cup could be moved to South Africa or Italy if Japan do not provide them with assurances by the end of September that they will be able to successfully host the tournament.
The game's governing body are considering its position for the 2019 tournament after plans for a new National Stadium, which was to be built in Tokyo and set to host the opening match, the final and other matches at the global showpiece in 2019, were scrapped by Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe due to escalating costs.
Gosper said no discussions for a replacement host country have taken place yet.
“We’ve had no formal discussions,” he told EWN Sport.
When asked if South Africa has already been asked to step in as Japan's replacement Gosper said: “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 said World Rugby remain optimistic that Japan will still be able to host the 2019 World Cup.
“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," he added.
"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.”