DESPITE watching South Africa deny England a second dose of World Cup glory in Yokohama on Saturday, Chris Elias returned to Wiltshire in rich confidence that rugby has a new first-class nation breaking through the ranks.

The Royal Wootton Bassett RFC chairman made a late call to jet off to Japan after Wales – his home country – and England successfully reached the World Cup semi-finals.

Unfortunately, Elias was denied the opportunity to watch either team secure eternal glory after South Africa defeated an England team that included former Bassett youngster and Ridgeway School pupil Jonny May 32-12 in the final.

But former Clifton and Bassett player Elias now expects Japan to reap the rewards of hosting a tournament that attracted an average attendance greater than 37,500.

And he was complimentary of the positive experience the Japanese public generated.

“It was a tremendous experience, and Japan is a completely different country to anywhere else,” said Elias.

“It would’ve been lovely if Jonny (May) won gold with the England team, but it wasn’t to be. Everyone at the club is very proud of his achievement.

“The World Cup always provides the sport with a bit of a kick – and that kick will be evident domestically and in Japan.

“Rugby’s profile has been lifted in Japan, and the welcome and commitment from the country was fantastic.

“Talking to Japanese people, the buy in and atmosphere was so much more compared to the football World Cup (in 2002).

“We’ll see players coming through the schools in Japan, I expect them to be a first-class team sooner rather than later.”

Closer to home, the Bassett chairman is delighted with the start Alan Low’s side have made to their South West One East campaign.

Entering the league’s first break after eight fixtures, Bassett have dropped just one point and sit in the automatic promotion frame – four points clear of second-placed Old Centralians.

The completion of a new clubhouse and additional strength and conditioning facilities have, without question, aided Bassett’s fine run of form.

For Elias, the club’s work off-the-field is now starting to pay dividends, with promotion to South West Premier – a semi-professional league – seemingly on the cards.

Elias said: “We have seen membership grow from all sides – that’s seniors right the way down to under-fives.

“We’re at the top of the amateur tree, so everything we do is on an amateur basis and we provide facilities to ensure players can be as fit as possible.

“And it’s paying dividends. We’re getting a continual stream of young players coming up through the ranks.

“We’re quite a small side, conditions favour us when it’s dry and the ground is firm. We’ll be tested when January and February.”