England flexes muscles for Word Cup bid - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

England flexes muscles for Word Cup bid

13/05/2009 09:39:12 PM Comments (0)

England rugby chiefs have unveiled plans for the biggest Rugby World Cup ever as they attempt to see off competition from Italy, Japan and South Africa to host the 2015 tournament.

As the would-be hosts put their bids to the International Rugby Board (IRB) here, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) revealed it believed it could sell three million tickets for the tournament by using major soccer stadia and delivering full houses at every match.

The new Wembley (90,000 capacity), Old Trafford (76,000) and Arsenal's Emirates Stadium (60,000) are all envisaged as venues for matches, along with Twickenham, the home of English rugby, and Millennium Stadium in Wales.

The only club rugby grounds involved would be Gloucester's Kingsholm and Leicester's Welford Road with Anfield, the home of Liverpool FC, Leeds United's Elland Road, Newcastle's St James' Park and Coventry City's Ricoh Arena all earmarked for matches.

Although England would be able to deliver a bigger tournament than their rivals, the IRB also has to consider how to develop the sport outside its traditional heartlands, which could help both Italy and Japan.

Japan narrowly missed out on hosting the 2011 tournament to New Zealand and are billing their bid as a potential platform for an explosion in rugby across Asia.

Commercial considerations could weigh against the Japanese however with the most valuable television rights being sold in Europe and broadcasters in the region keen for matches to take place in their time zone.

That plays to the advantage of South Africa, who are basing their bid on memories of the successful 1995 tournament - which proved to be a post-apartheid milestone for the country - and the infrastructure being put in place for next year's soccer World Cup finals.

Like England, Italy envisage using iconic soccer stadia like the Olympic stadium in Rome and Milan's San Siro to host matches.

RFU chief executive Francis Baron said England's bid represented a "low risk, high return" option for the IRB in uncertain economic times and pledged all profits would be ploughed back into rugby development in England, North America and the Pacific Islands.

England have concentrated their bid on 2015 while Italy, Japan and South Africa have also tabled proposals to host the 2019 tournament. A decision on the hosts of both events will be made by the IRB on July 28.

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