Debbie Jevans, CEO of England Rugby 2015 blogs to mark today’s 500 days to go milestone.
As we reach this milestone in the build-up to next year’s tournament, I would like to express my gratitude to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport for its continued support and commitment to delivering a world-class Rugby World Cup next year.
The Government is a hugely important partner for us, and by continuing to work together we will ensure that we not only deliver an unforgettable sporting event which the whole country can be proud of, but also a lasting legacy for the game of rugby in this country.
I cannot over-emphasise the importance of sport when it comes to reaching out to, and engaging with, international audiences, as was demonstrated by the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012. A recent Government report has shown sport to have an almost universal appeal that crosses language and cultural barriers, making it, in the British Council’s eyes, “the most accessible and exportable of the UK’s soft power assets” and we will work closely with Embassies across the world to help promote rugby and the game’s inextricable links to the UK.
The delivery of a tournament like Rugby World Cup is a collaborative effort between many different partners and stakeholders, and everyone involved in the delivery of this tournament should look back at what has been accomplished so far with an enormous sense of achievement. The fact that we are in such good shape 500 days out from the start of the tournament is testament to the fantastic work and unwavering support of the people and organisations that we are fortunate enough to be working with.
Our promise has always been to welcome Rugby and the world to England, and it seems fitting therefore to announce the dates of the general sale of match tickets in September at such an important juncture. Between 12 and 29 September 2014, up to 1 million tickets for all 48 matches will go on sale to the public, giving fans the chance to book their place at RWC 2015. From next week 500,000 tickets will go on sale to rugby fans through their clubs and the Rugby Community Ticket programme.
The first-ever international Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour will start its journey around the world later this month. The Webb Ellis Cup will travel to 15 different countries between May 2014 and June 2015, engaging and inspiring people from all walks of life to join in the build-up to RWC 2015. The Tour will visit both established and emerging markets, helping to grow the game globally and raising awareness of next year’s tournament.
The first stop on the tour will be to RWC 2019 hosts Japan. I had the pleasure of speaking with the Japanese Prime Minister last Friday when he visited Twickenham, and he expressed his excitement at the prospect of hosting the world’s third largest sporting event in five years’ time and the opportunities that staging a tournament of this magnitude will bring with it.
Within the last 12 months there has been much to celebrate as a result of what we have achieved collaboratively with our partners. In May 2013 we announced 13 of the best stadia in the country to host next year’s tournament, and we have been working closely with our host cities and venues ever since. We will continue to do so in order to ensure that everyone who attends a RWC 2015 match is guaranteed an excellent spectator experience.
In February we launched the volunteering campaign and the search to find ‘The Pack’ – the 6,000 volunteers who will play an integral role in the delivery of RWC 2015. We have had a great response from people all over the country, and have received around 20,000 applications to volunteer at RWC 2015. We would like to offer our heartfelt thanks to all those who applied and the challenge of selecting the 6,000 successful applicants now begins. We will hold ‘Try Outs’ in the 11 host cities, before confirming ‘The Pack’ in early 2015.
There is still much to look forward to over the next 500 days, before we welcome the 20 best rugby nations in the world to RWC 2015. From launching team bases to developing fanzones and engaging a nation with our plans for a Festival there are many more highlights to come. I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that together we will turn RWC 2015 into an unforgettable celebration of Rugby.