Rugby World Cup hoping to include Olympic stadium
Organisers of the 2015 rugby World Cup are hoping to stage matches at London’s Olympic stadium as part of their bid to attract record audiences and generate 100 million pounds ($163 million) in profits.
On Monday, a day before the the “three years to go” landmark, organisers said they were looking at east London as well as at major soccer grounds in the north. The tournament kicks off on Sept. 18 with the final scheduled for Twickenham on Oct. 31.
The future of the Olympic stadium is still unclear but officials said earlier on Monday the likely outcome would involve Premier League soccer club West Ham United moving in.
Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium will also host some matches, although how many Wales play there is still to be decided, and it could turn out that no club rugby venues are used at all.
Only Gloucester and Leicester have expressed an interest in hosting and their limited capacities could rule them out as organisers seek to reach a target of 2,9 million ticket sales as part of their bid to make at least a 100 million pound profit.
“There is some doubt about who will be the landlords of the stadium but we have engaged with the Olympic Park legacy company and are talking about the venue for the tournament. You would be mad not to include it as part of your thinking,” Ross Young, the tournament’s chief operating officer told reporters.
“Our ticketing strategy means we will also need to use football grounds and there are some great venues out there, from the big 60000, 70000s capacities to the 35000-40000 capacity ones and it’s picking them in conjunction with the match schedule and getting a strategy that enable us to sell the 2,9 million tickets we are looking to move”
The organisers have also brought in Debbie Jevans, one of the key people behind the organisation of the 2012 Olympics, to replace Paul Vaughan as the tournament’s CEO.
FEEL GOOD FACTOR
“The board felt that Debbie, with her exposure and being one of the architects of the Olympics, with unparalleled exposure to what that took and what was involved, brought us a new dimension,” said RWC 2015 chairman Andy Cosslett.
“We want this event to touch more people outside the immediate rugby world and family. The legacy benefit of the rugby World Cup is our ability to increase participation and just get people who don’t follow the game to rethink what they think about the game of rugby. To do that, you can’t think down traditional lines.”
The International Rugby Board’s new CEO Brett Gosper was also keen for his sport to cash in on Britain’s sporting feel good factor.
“We are conscious that there has been an amazing event that has happened in London in the Olympics and it’s putting the right kind of pressure on us,” added the Australian former advertising executive who was given rugby’s most powerful position in July.
“It really did capture the hearts and minds of this country and across the world. We as an organising committee are a little bit in awe of that but that is good pressure and our goal is to deliver something that everyone in this country will be proud of.
“This is obviously going to be a great World Cup for England, but England is also going to be good for the World Cup.”
The next major step for the World Cup is December’s pool draw, after which there should be rapid progress in deciding the venues, ticketing strategy and the thorny issue of the match schedule.
Organisers say they are committed to a fairer deal for the tier two and three nations following successive tournaments where many of them have been forced into playing many of their games with three or four day turnarounds. The big guns have routinely had a week to recover, primarily because of TV company demands for the major nations’ games to be staged at weekends.