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While Rugby World Cup 2015 is more than three years away, Wednesday marked 100 days to go until another huge sporting event takes place on British soil – the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The Games cannot help but have an impact on the way rugby’s biggest tournament is organised. As England Rugby 2015 ambassador Lawrence Dallaglio has previously stated: “No doubt there will be some interesting lessons that we can learn from the way we host that competition and some really good things that we can take away.”
Here are some of the areas which will provide valuable information for RWC 2015 preparations as the Games get underway on 27 July.
Looking back to Rugby World Cup 2011 in New Zealand, ER 2015 CEO Paul Vaughan noted how public involvement in a competition can make a massive difference to its success. “The consistency of the way the tournament was presented across the country was first class,” he said. “The nation embraced it amazingly well.”
With the clamour for Olympic tickets showing just how popular sport is in this country, the Games will be a perfect place to see how the British public take to a major sporting event taking place in the UK.
ER 2015 ambassador Maggie Alphonsi knows the importance of building momentum following such a massive tournament. “Having the 2012 Olympic Games in our country is absolutely fantastic. The nation is joining in with it, people want to be part of it and RWC 2015 will get the same response.”
Around 2.8 million tickets will be available for RWC 2015, with 375,000 overseas visitors expected to attend the tournament. With the nation being on display to the world for two weeks this July and August (as well as 11 days in August and September for the Paralympics), London 2012 provides a perfect opportunity to showcase Britain at its best.
As well as the sport taking place, London 2012 opens up the whole country to tourists who may well fancy a return in 2015 to watch the rugby. A pleasant stay for sports fans this summer could mean a lot of extra demand when tickets for RWC 2015 go on sale.
Stadiums the length and breadth of the UK such as St James’ Park in Newcastle, Old Trafford in Manchester and the City of Coventry Stadium – not to mention Wembley and the Millennium Stadium – have all been named as possible venues for RWC 2015 matches and they will see action during the Olympic football competition.
How the local communities respond to having such a large audience on their doorstep will inform the way the Rugby World Cup organisers move forward with plans for 2015. It will also mean that these arenas have undergone rigorous testing for how they cope with hosting a major international event.
The desire to leave a lasting impact on the country is something that both RWC 2015 and the London Olympics share. ER 2015 ambassador Will Greenwood has spoken of how the next few years will see the UK at the forefront of world sport. "You think of the Olympics in 2012, then the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014 and then the Rugby World Cup 2015 – the list keeps going and going. Rugby is another piece of the jigsaw to try and deliver what will be an incredible few years of British and English sport."
Some of the Games’ legacy will filter through into rugby, and combined with the drive to make RWC 2015 as inclusive as possible, the Games cannot help but have a positive impact on the development of young sportsmen and women – some of whom will form the backbone of the home nations’ rugby sides of the future.
And with Rugby Sevens becoming an Olympic sport in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, some careful promotion this year could see talented youngsters making the trip to Brazil to represent Great Britain on the rugby pitch.
The 2012 Games provide a perfect opportunity to see the impact such a large event has on the country. With plans for RWC 2015 already well underway, the boost provided by the Games will have a huge effect on the future of British sport. It should make for a perfect combination.