Thursday, 2 July 2009

More of the same from the IRB

England set to get 2015 World Cup

The Springboks wait to receive the Webb Ellis trophy
South Africa beat England to win the 2007 World Cup in France

England are close to winning the right to stage the 2015 Rugby World Cup after organisers recommended their bid to the International Rugby Board (IRB).

The IRB council will make their final decision on 28 July, but the decision of Rugby World Cup Limited (RWCL) to back England is a key development.

England are up against South Africa, Japan and Italy for 2015, with Japan being recommended as hosts for 2019.

I can only sigh at this news. Being not only a rugby fan but a Scot, im well aware of the capacity for short-sighted incompetence which seems to be the prime qualification for holding a position at one of the various governing bodies within the sport. The SRU have all but murdered the sport in Scotland and quickly overturned one of their few decent acts since the sport turned professional in 95 when they made absolutely every effort to fuck over Alex and Bob Carruthers who made the outrageous assumption that, having taken over Edinburgh and invested their own money in it, they might have some measure of control over the franchise and the money it earnt through taking part in the Celtic League and Heineken Cup.

The IRB seem similarly set on making every effort to stop rugby growing internationally and maintaining its status as a minor sport played by a small and exclusive club of original nations. There was quite rightly an outcry when the 2011 World Cup was awarded to New Zealand over the favourite bidders, Japan, with the latter damning the closed club which makes up international rugby. It now seems certain that the coming world cup in Kiwiland is going to come and go suffering a massive loss (hardly surprising given the size of stadia available) with the NZRU struggling to pay for it and as a result the IRB seem to have decided that it is absolutely essential that the next one should guarantee a profit.

With this need for cash prominent in mind it is hardly surprising that a major nation should be favourite for WC 2015, even if this would be a very short-sighted decision, but the seeming inevitability of England rehosting the competition is still depressing.

Given that Italy, unlike Japan, is now (in theory) a major nation, most certainly a nation where the sport is growing and where the both the massive sporting infrastructure (thanks to football) and government guarantee of financial support is in place one might have hoped that the IRB would have the ambition and foresight to take the greatest showcase for rugby outside the traditional heartlands and help spread the sport. As it is we'll be lucky to see the sport extended to new territory (new for this level) by 2019 if, as seems likely, that world cup is awarded to Japan. With the SANZAR unions being typically selfish and blind to any potential for growth in their humming and hawing over whether or not to admit Argentina to the Tri-Nations it looks like we'll find ourselves approaching the third decade of the 21st century with the sport still restricted to the same top-level countries as the amateur era.


Anonymous said...

How can the IRB suffer a loss in 2011 when they have a guaranteed fee? and they haven't even sold the TV Rights yet?

From my memory: he NZRU will probably suffer a 20 million loss, which was budgeted for at the time of the original bid.

Ticket sales only affect the host nation as it is the only source of income for the host. The IRB gets TV Rights, Sponsorship, corporates, Travel packages.

Costello said...

Perhaps loss is the wrong way to put it but certainly the IRB is hardly expecting any kind of substantial profit and the awarding of the 2015 tournement to England is pretty much universally accepted as having been motivated by a desire to compensate for the small income expected from 2011: