RFU chief promises best ever World Cup

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The Independent Online

Rugby Football Union chief executive Francis Baron last night vowed England would contribute to a "magic decade of sport" by delivering the best World Cup ever.

The RFU's success in Dublin yesterday guarantees England will host two of the three biggest sporting events in the world - the 2012 Olympics and 2015 Rugby World Cup - inside three years.

The Football Association will complete an unprecedented hat-trick if they are successful in their bid to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup to England.

Baron said: "This is a massive day for us. We believe we can do something special with the World Cup and our objective is to make it the best World Cup ever in 2015.

"It could be a magic decade for sports fans in England and the United Kingdom.

"We have got the Olympics in 2012, the Rugby League World Cup in 2013, the Commonwealth Games in 2014, we have got the 2015 Rugby World Cup and hopefully the 2018 football World Cup."

The RFU will not be staging matches in Ireland or Scotland and their plans to use the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff are still to be passed by the IRB.

But Baron insisted England's desire to stage the biggest World Cup ever would benefit rugby across Britain and Ireland.

"We want to maximise the impact of a World Cup in England for the benefit of rugby in Britain and Ireland," Baron added.

Subject to approval from the World Cup board and the draw itself, the RFU would look to base Ireland near their fanbase in Liverpool and Manchester with Scotland potentially in the north-east.

The RFU now expect to confirm plans to use Old Trafford along with six other club football grounds in Anfield, the Emirates Stadium, St James' Park, Elland Road, St Mary's Stadium and the Ricoh Arena plus Wembley.

Leicester's Welford Road and Gloucester's Kingsholm are the only dedicated club rugby grounds on the roster. The final will be held at Twickenham on October 17, 2015.

The International Rugby Board's 26-man council voted 16-10 in favour of accepting the recommended package of England as hosts for the 2015 World Cup with Japan staging the tournament in 2019.

England 2015 will generate a projected £300million for the IRB in tournament guarantee and commercial returns while the RFU expect to sell 2.8million tickets, with an average attendance of 57,000.

Rivals South Africa felt they would match England on commercial grounds.

But ultimately the package of England 2015 and Japan 2019 was seen to provide the best opportunity to take the World Cup into new territory and spread rugby's reach around the world.

IRB vice-chairman Bill Beaumont, the former England captain, said: "It will do a huge amount for the global game. The finances by hosting the competition in England are significant.

"That will then enable the IRB to grow the game because 95% of all the IRB's income comes from Rugby World Cup. It is important we have a successful financial tournament.

"It will be a great showcase for the game because there are some iconic stadia being used by the RFU and I think you will get a real buy-in from everyone in the UK."

The RFU are confident they can convince the IRB there is a "compelling reason" for using the Millennium Stadium given its status as a Test rugby ground, its proximity to London and record of high attendances.

However, the IRB could conceivably rule to allow use of the Millennium Stadium providing Wales are not afforded home advantage. A decision is not expected until at least March.