High stakes at play in England’s 2015 Rugby World Cup

By Julian Guyer, AFP

LONDON–England fans will have great hopes when the country stages the 2015 World Cup in a year’s time. But they will not be alone, with rugby officials hoping the fact many of the key behind-the-scenes staff at the widely praised London 2012 Olympic Games, including England Rugby 2015 chief executive Debbie Jevans, are now running their showpiece event will produce a financial as well as sporting dividend. Already the International Rugby Board (IRB) has estimated that the 2015 World Cup will probably make 150 million pounds (US$239 million), a 60-percent increase from the 2011 edition in New Zealand, which although it is the home of the reigning world champions and more of a “rugby mad” nation than England, has access to a much less lucrative commercial market. Officials now expect the 2015 edition to be the most profitable World Cup of all time, topping the 122.4-million-pound surplus from the 2007 event in France. “We are fortunate in having a country that has already staged a Rugby World Cup and recently organised an Olympic Games stage the 2015 World Cup,” IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset told AFP in an interview. The Frenchman added: “A British friend of mine joked to me that their model is France 2007 but with a 10-percent decrease in costs and a 10-percent increase in revenue.” However, as with many major sporting events questions remain regarding ticket availability and price. England 2015 are pledged to deliver at least 80 million pounds in revenue to the IRB, for whom the World Cup provides some 95 percent of their income.

This effectively means they have to sell 2.9 million tickets across the 48 games of the tournament as a whole.