Eden Park has a rival for the title of Worst Stadium to Host a World Cup Final.

Rugby's showpiece event will be staged in 2019 at a ground where binoculars are a compulsory addition to standard match-day attire.

The Yokohama International Stadium is an impressive enough building but it is singularly unsuited for rugby.

An all-purpose stadium that normally houses an athletics track, Yokohama offers a dreadful rugby viewing experience.


The pitch is an island of green in a bowl of concrete, even the closest seat gives you the impression that you are watching the game from a neighbouring suburb.

As Australia's Samu Kerevi and Tevita Kuridrani were carving up the Brave Blossoms of Japan on the way to a 63-30 win this weekend, 43,000 humans were in attendance. That is not an insignificant number, yet this felt less like a test match and more like a staged exhibition.

Much of this is out of World Rugby's control. The final was meant to be played at the national stadium in Tokyo that is being built for the 2020 Olympics but that will not be completed in time. Yokohama - a booming port city which was a tiny fishing village until Japan opened itself up to trade with the west in the 19th century - is just 19 minutes by bullet train from Tokyo. It is part of the world's most populous conurbation.

The stadium, which can seat a little more than 72,000 and will make Japan Rugby a lot of money, has already hosted the Fifa World Cup final in 2002 so it has experience staging big events. But it doesn't make it the right ground. Even with a third of the seats empty, the queues for food and drink took half an hour and the beer ran out 20 minutes into the game.

Heineken will waltz in and take care of this in time for the World Cup, but it won't be able to do anything about he stadium's biggest problem: its lack of intimacy.

Rugby is the ultimate contact sport. The beauty in watching it at the ground is that you can almost feel the hits. You watch space open and close and ride the tackles from your seat. When you are so far from the pitch - like you are in Yokohama - this visceral experience is lost.

Japan will do a magnificent job of hosting the World Cup. The people are welcoming and theirs is a culture where failure is not tolerated. There is just enough interest in rugby to bluff it at the very least.

It will be a groundbreaking two months in many respects. It's just a shame they haven't got a better building for the final two weeks.