AFP: England may have had a miserable time on the field, but they are still set for a £15 million ($23 million, 21 million euros) boost after staging the “biggest and best” World Cup yet.
Stephen Brown, managing director of tournament organisers England 2015, said they had exceeded their revenue target of £250 million which covers the surplus it must pay to World Rugby of £80 million.
As a result, an additional £15 million will find its way into the coffers of England’s governing Rugby Football Union from what World Rugby chairman Bernard Lapasset said was the “biggest and best” World Cup of them all.
This World Cup, which ended with New Zealand beating Australia 34-17 in a thrilling final at Twickenham on Saturday, saw England become the first tournament hosts to be knocked out in the pool phase.
But Brown told a Twickenham news conference on Sunday: “From England 2015’s perspective this has been a huge success. This was a tournament of record attendances and sell-out matches. Wembley Stadium twice broke the record for the biggest ever Rugby World Cup attendance (with 89,267 at the home of English football for Ireland’s pool match against Romania).
In all more than 2.47 million tickets were sold for the World Cup’s 48 matches -- 98 percent of the capacity of all venues.
‘Froth and buzz’
Earlier World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper was adamant England’s early exit did not “make a dent” in the World Cup.
“That little bit of extra froth and buzz of the hosts keeping on going might have added something, but certainly as a tournament globally it really wasn’t affected by that departure,” he told BBC Radio Five.
“We’ve had incredible television audience scores, interest throughout the globe, interest in England and the UK held up. Actually, it really didn’t make a dent on the tournament at all.
“It broke every record on every metric we’ve got: viewing audiences, number of tickets sold, commercial values, sponsorship.”
Speaking later at Twickenham, Gosper also said: “It’s been a wonderful six-week celebration. We’re more than satisfied, we’re pretty ecstatic. Thanks to New Zealand and Australia, it really was a fitting finale. This tournament deserved a final like the one we got yesterday (Saturday).”
“The whole tournament has shown our sport at its very best in every possible way, not only to existing fans but to new fans. That is the role of Rugby World Cup –- to gather in new audiences across the globe,” the Australian administrator added.
Gosper was especially proud of how this World Cup had been the most competitive of them all, with 2019 hosts Japan’s stunning 34-32 win over two-time champions South Africa on the opening weekend – one of the all-time great upsets – heralding a series of fine displays by ‘tier two’ nations.
“We’ve had the lowest winning margins of any previous tournament and the lowest between ‘tier one’ and ‘tier two nations’,” he said.
“We’ve had comebacks, we’ve had ranking upsets. Japan-South Africa was a magical moment not just for rugby, but for sport. Looking ahead, we’re committed to closing that performance gap even further.”
One thing that many emerging countries have said would improve their performance is more fixtures against rugby union’s major nations between World Cups.
But Gosper said finding gaps in an already packed fixture schedule was far from straightforward.
“It’s one of our priorities to solve those calendar challenges,” he insisted. “We’re working to find some harmony and balance beyond that. It’s not an easy task. Everyone comes to that table with their own view of things.”