I am delighted to be a guest writer for The Front Row Group at such an exciting time for the game of rugby in this country. England Rugby 2015, the Organising Committee for this year’s Rugby World Cup, is now just eight months away from delivering one of the world’s largest sporting events, and I am pleased to say that our plans are on track to deliver the tournament in September this year.
Rugby World Cup 2015 will provide an invaluable opportunity to create a lasting legacy for the game in this country, and with 48 matches spread across 10 cities in England and Cardiff, we look forward to bringing rugby to new audiences, as well as celebrating the game in its traditional heartlands. Our match-day stadia include a blend of established rugby grounds, such as Twickenham Stadium, Sandy Park in Exeter and Kingsholm in Gloucester, well-known football stadia such as Newcastle’s St. James’ Park and the Manchester City Stadium, and iconic sporting venues such as Wembley and the Olympic Stadium in London.
Following the sales launch for supporter tours and hospitality packages we launched the Rugby Community ticket sales programme where we sold over 350,000 tickets to the rugby community in England and Wales between May and July 2014. Tickets then went on general sale to the public via a 17-day application window in September, and we experienced record levels of demand for a Rugby World Cup with 950,000 tickets sold in the September general sale, and demand exceeding supply in at least one price category in every match and in all price categories for 23 of the 48 matches. To ensure the process was as fair as possible, ballots were held for oversubscribed matches and we are delighted by the strong demand for tickets will see the Rugby World Cup 2015 being one of the best supported sporting events this country has hosted.
Inevitably with such high demand for tickets (we received over 650,000 applications for tickets for England v Australia alone) not everyone who applied for tickets was successful, and we ensured that those that weren’t successful were given a priority window to secure tickets when they went back on sale. In total, we sold over 1.9 million tickets in 2014 and, at the time of writing, we still have tickets available for 10 matches across the tournament.
Rugby World Cup 2015 is also set to generate a wide range of benefits for the national economy. An economic impact report, conducted by Ernst and Young in late 2014, estimated that the tournament will generate up to £2.2 billion of output into the economy, contributing almost £1 billion of extra value to national GDP. The benefits of Rugby World Cup 2015 will be shared by all host cities, adding 41,000 jobs and leading to £85 million being invested in infrastructure. It is anticipated that around 460,000 fans from around the world will travel to England and Cardiff between September 18 and October 31 and we look forward to welcoming them.
The Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour, the first time the iconic Webb Ellis Cup has been showcased around the world, has already visited eleven countries, taking in a mix of emerging rugby markets such as China and the USA, as well as countries where the game of rugby is more established such as South Africa and Australia. The Webb Ellis Cup will now head to Romania, Canada, Germany and France before returning to the UK to start a 100-day domestic Trophy Tour on June 10. We will also stage a nationwide Festival of Rugby, giving communities across the country the chance to participate in rugby themed events, no matter where they live or what their involvement in the game is, and celebrate 2015 being the year of Rugby World Cup.
An important lesson that we learnt from the delivery of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012 was that you cannot deliver an event of this scale alone it can only be achieved in partnership and we are grateful for the continued support of a strong network of partners and stakeholders across the country and we look forward to continuing to sport closely with them in the build-up to the tournament.
Our volunteers will be central to the successful delivery of Rugby World Cup 2015 and, as I write, we are offering places to join The Pack – the 6,000 volunteers who will become the faces of the tournament. The selection process from the 10,000 applicants that were interviewed was very difficult as the standard and enthusiasm of all that applied was exceptional. We are working with the RFU to ensure that those that will not be a part of our programme have the chance to be involved in the game, if they do not already do so, by having the chance to be involved with their local rugby clubs.
Operationally we find ourselves in a strong position, and in 2014 we tested key parts of our transport plan around the England v Samoa international at Twickenham Stadium. This year we will roll out a comprehensive operational testing programme at some of our venues as well as carrying out a number of desk top exercises. Our aim is to deliver the best possible match-day experience for everyone who attends a Rugby World Cup match this year.
We are in good shape as the tournament draws closer, but we are in no way complacent. It is an exciting time as the Opening Ceremony and opening match draw ever closer and we have the opportunity to deliver a tournament that truly engages the nation and creates a lasting legacy for the game in this country.
Debbie Jevans CEO, England Rugby 2015