Tokyo's first IRB World Sevens Series tournament in a decade was distinctly lacking in fun and pompom girls, but was good preparation for the 2019 World Cup, the International Rugby Board chief said Monday.
The Sevens World Series Tokyo edition at the weekend should have had "more fun in the stands, more fun people", IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said after witnessing the two-day showpiece at the weekend.
"We need to introduce more band music in the stadium, more activities around the stadium and more possibilities that pompom girls would be on the pitch and so on," he told a press briefing, saying Japanese rugby executives agreed with his analysis.
Lapasset added that he was hopeful the next Sevens in the Japanese capital would be better.
Tokyo has rejoined the Sevens World Series after an 11-year absence in a bid to raise its international profile in the sport and promote rugby among Japanese who are usually more drawn to baseball and football.
Despite his criticism, the French supremo said the Tokyo Sevens was still "great and well-organised" and bodes well for 2019, when Japan becomes the first Asian nation to host the 15-a-side World Cup.
Asked about complaints concerning pitch quality, long lines to food and drink stalls, lack of ticketing information and scant promotion around the country, Lapasset described the problems as not "crucial."
"We are confident because Japan is ready to learn quickly," he said.
The Tokyo Sevens, the seventh leg of the nine-stop series, immediately followed the wildly popular Hong Kong edition, arguably the world capital of the short form of rugby, which will make its Olympic debut in 2016.
The southern Chinese city's version usually features packed stadiums and drunken revellers who turn it into a three-day party.
"The Sevens are now shown to well over 100 countries in the world through television," said Kit McConnell, a senior official of Rugby World Cup Ltd.
"So the promotion of Japan and Tokyo as a rugby destination will continue to build around the Tokyo Sevens toward 2019."
Organisers of 2019 will be hoping for a better post-tournament write-up - and better weather.
Rain saw the attendance at the 25,000-seat Prince Chichibu stadium down to just 6,100 on Saturday, but the second day saw the crowd swell to 12,600 in fine weather.
The event also enjoyed scant local press attention.
Japan Rugby Football Union president Yoshiro Mori lamented the "limited news coverage", with newspaper sports pages dominated instead by baseball games and a 1-1 women's football friendly between Japan and the United States.
Although Sunday's action was broadcast live on a private network, public broadcaster NHK did not air "one second" in its news programme, Mori said.
"The Australia-Samoa final was so exciting that it deserved to be shown at least for 30 seconds," the former prime minister said.
Australia came from behind to seal their first title of the current Sevens World Series by beating Samoa 28-26.
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