Two years to go…

Tournament on Track as England Rugby 2015 Mark Two Years To Go

England Rugby 2015 Limited yesterday claimed they’re on track to deliver the game’s showpiece event, two years out from England facing an as yet undetermined Oceania 1 side on 18th September 2015, marking the start of Rugby World Cup 2015.

Now, everyone wants to write their own report card but they do seem to be delivering so far. Tournament organiser ER2015 now employs a 50-strong staff and this will increase to 70 by the end of the year, with the aim of finalising the schedule and developing the detailed delivery plans and timelines. The foundations at least are in place, particularly with a strong show of support from the cities and venues who will deliver the third largest global sporting event in two years time.

ER2015 CEO Debbie Jevans outlined the progress made to date:

“In the last 12 months we have achieved a great deal and laid the foundations – two years out we are on track and in good shape. If you do look back at the last year and what we’ve put in place, with the venues, with the match schedule, engagement with the cities and the budget, I’m proud of what we’ve achieved.”

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By the end of the year Jevans’ team will also have confirmed kick-off times and the ticketing pricing:

“We are now focused on finalising the kick off times and the ticketing strategy. The end of November is when we’re going to be launching the ticketing campaign. Our aim is for tickets to be as affordable and accessible as possible. We’ve announced entry level prices of £7 and £15 concession tickets and up to £715 for a top price final ticket but we’ll be filling in the gaps in between those and looking at what the options are for tickets.”

Various planning milestones are already pencilled in for 2014, including the volunteer programme, team bases, an international William Webb Ellis Trophy tour and tickets going on sale.

6,000 volunteers are required for the tournament and the volunteer programme will be launched early next year. In line with the tournament vision, ER2015 will recruit 75% of these volunteers from the existing rugby club volunteer network, recognising all those who deliver the game week-in week-out in their local communities, whilst also encouraging new people to access the sport by giving the remaining 25% to people outside the game.

Jevans said: “We’re thrilled that 75% of volunteers will be coming from the rugby family but a big thing we want is to get new people involved so it’s about getting the balance right between those that volunteer week in week out and those that we want to start loving the game as we do. I think to have 75% from the rugby family is right and appropriate.”

Over 80 bids have been received from more than 30 English counties to become RWC 2015 Team Bases, so the next stage of proceedings will be to find adequate facilities to host the world’s best teams.  Team Bases, which consist of indoor and outdoor training facilities, hotel, gym and pool, will be selected and announced by the middle of next year, providing ER2015 with further opportunity to expand the game to communities all around the country.

ER2015 will also take the coveted Webb Ellis Cup on two trophy tours – international (around 500 days to go) and domestic (100 days to go) – taking the Cup to most qualifying nations and then all around the UK and Ireland.

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For 2015 Ambassador Lawrence Dallaglio, currently sporting a terrific crop of rough stubble, the tournament is about creating great memories for players and fans alike:

“I’ve got many World Cup memories. I was a fan and spectator in 1991 as a young teenager. I was playing for Wasps and went to watch my first Rugby World Cup final at Twickenham when England player Australia. Sadly Australia managed to win that game fairly closely but it created a memory and a dream for me to one day go on and play for England, which I was lucky enough to do. 12 years later I may have extracted a little bit of revenge against Australia!

“So it’s about great memories. We want to create the most wonderful experiences for players, fans, people watching on TV either in this country or all over the world, so that people leave RWC in 2015 with an incredible experience.”

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Our trusted parliament has also weighed in, Minister for Sport and Tourism, Hugh Robertson and good old DC (no, not Dan Carter) having their twopenny-worth. Robertson said “Rugby World Cup 2015 will be a fantastic tournament, bringing new fans and players to the game both domestically and internationally. With two years to go until it kicks off strong plans are in place to ensure both the players and spectators are well looked after and a legacy for the sport is delivered.”

The Prime Minister is still embracing the rugby community after seemingly recovering from being bunny-eared by Manu Tuilaigi and yesterday exchanged rugby balls with NZ Prime Minister, John Key during a meeting between the two leaders at 10 Downing Street. In Take The Three’s humble opinion, Key got the raw end of the bargain, receiving a specially designed Gilbert Two Years To Go Rugby World Cup 2015 ball”, whereas Cameron bagged himself a ball signed by the New Zealand team that won Rugby World Cup 2011. Fair trade?

Anyway, the presentation informally marked the transfer from one Rugby World Cup host to the next and the formal Webb Ellis Cup handover will take place later in the year.

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