Scrum Sevens
Anything you can do...
ESPNscrum Staff
November 3, 2011
Argentina fans enjoy their clash with the All Blacks, New Zealand v Argentina, Rugby World Cup quarter-final, Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand, October 9, 2011
Argentina's fans provided much of the colour at the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand © Getty Images
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As the 2011 Rugby World Cup fades into the distance, Scrum Sevens looks at how the next hosts England can learn from what was arguably the best tournament in the sport's history.

The latest global gathering in New Zealand was a delight from start to finish, unless you were England, and set a new standard when it comes to hosting rugby's showpiece event. The organisers of the next World Cup, England Rugby 2015, will no doubt have been watching closely but just in case they weren't, we offer a few things they and Rugby World Cup Ltd should do to make sure the next tournament has a similar impact.

Adopt a second team
This ingenious marketing ploy, that we believe originated at the 2003 tournament in Australia, involves home fans choosing a second team to support on their World Cup quest. It was a rousing success at that event and it was no surprise to see their French and Kiwi counterparts follow suit in 2007 and 2011.

Once the draw is made and team bases are decided then a rallying call must go out to fans, clubs and schools in those areas to get behind those sides and if it requires funding for councils to throw their support behind the tournament then let's have that fight now rather than later. Blenheim's decision to change road signs into Russian in tribute to their visitors during RWC'11 was just one shining example of how to get it done.

Get the scheduling right
The fixture schedule for the 2011 tournament was laughable and the joke was on the 'smaller' nations with the likes of Samoa having to endure a gruelling four games in 16 days. In contrast, the traditionally stronger countries were afforded a week's rest in between their games due to the demands of TV rights holders who insisted on weekend fixtures to maximise commercial revenues.

Thankfully the Tier 1 nations have promised to provide a "better balance" in four years time with the likes of defending champions New Zealand and hosts England agreeing to share the burden and play midweek fixtures. The European time zone and the commercial-friendly window made that kind offer a simple decision but the proof will be in the pudding.

Engage the nation
There could be no doubt that the Rugby World Cup was taking place in New Zealand due to the fact that the whole country bought into the spectacle. The tournament reached into every nook and cranny across a rugged and beautiful country with everyone from the Prime Minister John Key to the guy on the street well aware of the importance of the event and keen to show their support.

Rugby is not so entwined into England's psyche so organisers cannot rely on such natural enthusiasm for the tournament. The sport also suffers in terms of its profile with the colossus that is football's Premier League set to hog the headlines no matter what rugby chiefs do to tempt fans away. The marketing men and women will need to earn their crust so they should get their thinking caps on.

Get your house in order
The worst possible nightmare for the Rugby Football Union is that political woes over shadow their hosting of the sport's showpiece event. Self-inflicted turmoil has blighted the RFU for much of the last 12 months and there seems no end to their troubles following the exit of acting chief executive Martyn Thomas this week with the 67-year-old also vacating his position as chairman of England Rugby 2015.

It is almost unconceivable to think that we will still be debating the inner workings of the English rugby's governing body in four years time but this is the RFU. Great tournaments are often the result of inspired leadership with the likes of Jock Hobbs, Brian Roche and Martin Snedden all in place five years before the eyes of the world fell upon New Zealand. A lot rides on Paul Vaughan, chief executive of England Rugby 2015, and chief operating officer Ross Young and the void left by Thomas must be filled without delay to ensure no momentum is lost.

Get bums on seats
New Zealand beat ticket sale and visitor number estimations and believe the NZ$39m (£20m) loss they still made was a great investment with the country set to benefit from a subsequent tourism and spending boom. England Rugby 2015 will face similar financial pressures having stumped up an £80m hosting fee but will not be happy to accept a financial loss.

To prevent that they need to maximise the only revenue outlet open to them - ticket sales. They hope to sell in the region of 2.8m tickets, double the amount sold at RWC'11, with matches set to be staged at 12 different stadiums in 10 cities including Wembley, Old Trafford and the Millennium Stadium. But they must be careful with ticket pricing in their quest to cover costs - empty seats can prove very costly both financially and when it comes to the tournament's legacy.

Scrap the Bronze Final
The 3rd place play-off may be a lucrative fixture for organisers - with 53,000 packing into Eden Park to see Australia pip Wales last month - but does little for the tournament as a whole. Why not harness the clear improvement made by the 'smaller' nations in New Zealand and the support they attracted and stage a Plate competition next time around? Instead of the big stadiums, let's use some of the traditional rugby grounds and some family-friendly ticket pricing to ensure the World Cup party last a little bit longer for some nations.

Get a handle on Twitter
Samoa's Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu demonstrated the power of Twitter - and the trouble it can get you into - with a series of outbursts during RWC'11 and the role of social media is only going to increase in the years leading up to the next tournament. Organisers will be best served embracing it and other sites such as Facebook if they want to ensure the highest possible profile for their event. Ignore it at your peril!

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