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England aim for 'best World Cup yet'

Tue, 10 Jan 2012 00:00
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The man responsible for running the 2015 World Cup in England said he aimed to deliver the best edition yet of the showpiece tournament, adding last year's hosts New Zealand had been "fantastic".

Paul Vaughan, Chief Executive of England Rugby 2015 (ER 2015), said: "Our objective is to be the best World Cup in the history of the game.

"It will be a difficult challenge. They did a fantastic job in New Zealand. They were absolutely brilliant at running the event."

The 2011 edition, as well as being staged in a country where rugby union is the number one sport, unlike England, was also boosted by the All Blacks winning the tournament on home soil.

A good run by the host nation lifts any World Cup and Vaughan hopes that in four years time England will raise their game after a lacklustre performance in New Zealand was compounded by a series of embarrassing drink-fuelled incidents that all took place against the backdrop of administrative chaos at Twickenham.

But former Rugby Football Union insider Vaughan believes both the governing body and the squad, now under the caretaker charge of Stuart Lancaster following Martin Johnson's post World Cup resignation, have cleaned up their act.

"I think the RFU and English rugby have pretty much got themselves sorted out now in terms of improving the governance of the game and getting the right culture involved in the England team," Vaughan said.

"We want and need them to do well because inevitably a successful England team will help us raise interest and it will help us sell a lot of tickets.

"We want to make sure that happens. We have to believe that England will get themselves into a good position."

Because the 2015 World Cup is being staged in England, with its easy access to lucrative European markets, it is expected to be a commercial improvement upon last year's event, with ER 2015 hoping to sell around three million tickets compared to the 1.3 million purchased in New Zealand.

But even with pool tickets available for under £10, doubts remain if England - sole hosts for the first time in 2015 - can improve upon the "rugby experience" of the 2011 World Cup.

"Part of the task will be to get the ticketing strategy right," Vaughan said. "We are going to make sure the cup will be affordable and accessible to everyone.

"We are looking to sell just under three million tickets. We have nine million people interested in the game in this country...I think it's a realistic target."

Although the tournament dates are yet to be fixed, as are the venues - the International Rugby Board are due to decide in March - the World Cup is set to take place at the same time as English football's highly popular Premier League, which could rule out the use of grounds such as Anfield and Old Trafford.

But IRB chief executive Mike Miller said: "We have a few tricks up our sleeve to get people interested in this event.

"The Premier League happens week-in, week-out, this does every four years, and once every 20, 30 or 40 in England so this is a special event, it's a world event."

Miller added the IRB would discuss whether Wales should be allowed to play some of their pool matches at their Millennium Stadium home in Cardiff.

AFP

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