World Rugby has completed its first official Rugby World Cup 2019 tournament review of the year, endorsing hosting preparation and progress.
The game's governing body said via a press statement that their meetings with the Japan Rugby 2019 organising committee in Tokyo are important to guiding delivery of one of the world's biggest major sports events.
They also mark the beginning of a more formal relationship with Japan Rugby 2019 following the operational handover from England Rugby 2015 following the debrief in February and detailed venue inspections in April.
Led by World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper and tournament director Alan Gilpin, the World Rugby delegation endorsed the positive work achieved by the Japan Rugby 2019 organising committee in adhering to key operational milestones, continued strong national and local government support and its passion to deliver an outstanding event for the whole of Japan and the global rugby family.
The organising committee, in partnership with World Rugby, continues to implement key master plan deliverables, including the venue planning and team camp selection process.
By launching the team camp process more than three years in advance of the event, World Rugby and Japan Rugby 2019 aim to promote a collaborative selection process that maximises hosting benefits for the venues and cities and further promotes world-class facilities that cater for every need of the world's top 20 teams.
As the global rugby family counts down to the three years to go milestone on 20 September, 2016, tournament planning has now entered a very busy and important phase that will underpin the successful delivery of one of the world's biggest and best-loved major sports events.
By the end of the year, the tournament vision and ticketing strategy will be agreed with World Rugby and details of the May 2017 Pool Allocation Draw process will be announced.
Additionally, details will be announced of the host broadcast services provider and key broadcast and commercial deals as Rugby World Cup continues to expand its commercial and broadcast reach.
Details will also be announced of the IMPACT Beyond 2019 legacy programme that will be launched later this year with the aim of attracting and retaining more than one million new players within Asia by Rugby World Cup 2019.
Speaking at the close of the meetings, Gosper said: "We are very pleased to see the continued strong progress being made by the Japan Rugby 2019 organising committee and its key stakeholders.
"In many respects the project is more advanced than previous tournaments at the same stage with the tournament venues and dates set, key financial provisions in place and a new dynamic logo and identity launched.
"This is great credit to the collaborative and proactive approach by the Japan Rugby 2019 organising committee with the full support of national and local government, and the cities and prefectures.
"The organising committee continues to reflect our ambition to deliver a very special and successful event in which the people of Japan and the global rugby family can be proud of. It is very pleasing to see them embrace this in every aspect of their planning.
"We look forward to continuing to work closely with them in order to ensure that they can fully maximise the benefits of hosting this great event.”
Gilpin also endorsed progress ahead of a busy and important period of planning delivery.
"We continue to be satisfied with our developing partnership with the Japan 2019 organising committee deliver as we enter an important and critical phase of our joint planning, particularly as we finalise the ticketing and marketing strategy which will be launched in 2017 and underpin the success of the event," he said.
"We are also advanced in our IMPACT Beyond 2019 strategy, which aims to attract and retain one million new participants across Asia by Japan 2019, which again is fundamental to the future growth of rugby in the world's most populous region.
"We continue to focus on ensuring the key foundations are in place for a ground-breaking tournament of which Japan, Asia and the global rugby family will be proud.”
Japan Rugby 2019 organising committee CEO Akira Shimazu added: "We were delighted to be able to host a series of productive tournament review meetings with Brett Gosper and members of the World Rugby tournament review group. We are also very pleased to receive endorsement of the progress we have made with our preparations.
"We are fully committed to delivering an exceptional Rugby World Cup 2019 that has teams and fans at heart and is for the whole of Japan. Planning is on track.
"We have 12 excellent venues and a host of proactive and supportive host cities and we will continue to work closely with the host cities and Japanese Government to deliver an exceptional tournament, the first to be hosted in Japan and Asia."
On the field, the global qualification process that will deliver eight further teams to the tournament, kicked off in March and continues to excite and inspire with Fiji in pole position in the Oceania region and the Asia and North America regional qualifiers underway.
With thanks to World Rugby