Here are some of the main elements of an official International Rugby Board press release which appeared last week:
Writes Stephen Jones as part of his Sunday Times column.
– Rugby World Cup 2007 was the most successful Rugby World Cup tournament in its 20-year history. The tournament smashed all previous attendance, broadcast and economic impact figures.
– The tournament attendance shattered the previous record set in Australia in 2003. Over 2 million attended a Rugby World Cup for the first time with the total attendance reaching 2.25 million. This represents an average match attendance of 47,000 across the 48 tournament matches in France, Scotland and Wales, with a 97% attendance rate across the 42 matches held in France.
– “Rugby World Cup was the biggest sporting event to be staged last year. The rugby was of exceptional standard, generating fascinating matches both in the pool stages and the knock-out rounds. Off the field the tournament captured the hearts and minds of the French public and the wider global rugby community,” said IRB chairman, Bernard Lapasset.
– Mirroring the massive demand for public ticket sales, the tournament’s travel and hospitality programme exceeded 100,000 sales. This is more than the 1999 and 2003 tournaments combined, highlighting the tremendous success of the commercial corporate hospitality and international travel programme.
– Backing up the record attendance figures was massive interest from international broadcasters. In total 119 international broadcasters televised the action across 202 TV territories with a potential cumulative reach of over 4.2 billion (up 800 million on RWC 2003). Live coverage also increased dramatically on 2003 levels from 5,500 hours to over 8,500 broadcast hours.
– Television coverage doubled in Spain, Italy, Portugal and across Asia, while enhanced levels of coverage were also gained in the emerging rugby markets of Russia, India, Canada and the USA.
That’s enough statistics. Here is the big question. Here is the point. Can someone please tell me why we are trailing extensive, controversial, misguided and speculative new laws designed (so they say) to improve the appeal of the game?
Answers to the IRB.