Rugby World Cup
London 2012 inspires World Cup organisers
August 6, 2012
England Rugby 2015 chief executive Paul Vaughan is hoping to stage a memorable tournament in three years' time. © Getty Images
England Rugby 2015 chief Paul Vaughan has welcomed the challenge of staging an event to rival the London 2012 Olympics.
Vaughan has witnessed the Games firsthand and has nothing but admiration for the way the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) have successfully welcomed the world and engaged the nation and he hopes to replicate their success in a little over three years' time.
"It's a great challenge for us," Vaughan told ESPN. "We don't have the central focal point that the Olympic Park provides, we've got a tournament that is spread out throughout the country and one sport not 26.
"We've also we've got an education process to go through. We've got to explain to people who are not aficionados how the game works, so we have got to try and find ways to educate the non-rugby people into the sport because if it does inspire them to become part of the sport then we have done a good job."
That forms part of the "human" and "intellectual" legacy that Vaughan hopes the tournament will leave. "We're not just talking about players because we want people to follow the sport, volunteer, referee and coach. So hopefully we too can inspire the next generation."
Vaughan hopes to tap into London 2012 in another way by adding the Olympic Stadium to the list of venues for the tournament - something that he sees as a "fantastic opportunity to stage a world-class event in a world-class venue" - but a decision regarding its use has still to be made.
"It really depends on the discussions with the legacy company," he said. "The idea is that the legacy company will retain ownership of the venue rather than the original idea that would see it pass on to someone else. If the legacy company retains ownership then it gives them more control over what events take place there.
"If a football club moves in it will affect anyone else who wants to use it whether that be World Athletics in 2017, us in 2015, concerts or whatever so they have got to work through all that interaction between the different groups who could potentially use it."
The pride felt throughout the country during the Olympics has been largely fuelled by Great Britain's gold medal haul but Vaughan insists a successful England side is not key to a memorable World Cup. "I'm keen that England do progressively well between now and 2015 because anticipation is a massive part of all sport," explained Vaughan, who is tasked with selling an estimated 2.8m tickets.
"Most sports are not just about the 80 minutes on the pitch, it is the build up and then the talk about it afterwards. We want to make sure England do pretty well in the build-up and if they do well during the tournament then it would be a massive bonus. Bu we are looking after other fans from other countries as well including our close neighbours, Wales, Scotland Ireland as well - it can work in many ways but the great thing about rugby is a the inclusivity. People want to watch great sport, there is a dedication to and passion for the sport, and that is part of the great value."
Delivering the same kind of fan experience that made last year's World Cup in New Zealand so memorable is also high on Vaughan's list of priorities and he has embraced a watching brief during London 2012. "I am trying to look at things from a fan's point of view," he explained. "What does the consumer think from the moment they get on a train to the point when they go home again. It's not just about what happens at the venue, it's also about the journey.
"We are determined to make sure people go away thinking that they have had a great time. Our main objective is to put on the best Rugby World Cup ever and you measure that using the fans."
Those supporters are also set to benefit from Fan Zones that reached epic proportions at RWC'11 and have ensured the feel-good factor surrounding London 2012 has extended far beyond the official venues.
"We do intend to make sure that the Fan Zones are fantastic places to go to in their own right," added Vaughan, "So if you can't get a ticket and then you can go there come away having enjoyed a great experience. If that proves to be the case then we will know we have done a good job."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Graham Jenkins is the Senior Editor of ESPNscrum and you can also follow him on Twitter.
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