Rugby World Cup 2015
Jevans to bring 'new dimension' to World Cup planning
September 17, 2012
Debbie Jevans will being working with England Rugby 2015 next month © PA Photos
England Rugby 2015's new chief executive Debbie Jevans has been backed to bring a "new dimension" to the World Cup organisers' preparations for the sport's next showpiece event.
Jevans, one of the architects of the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, is set to start work with ER2015 next month with former chief executive Paul Vaughan having made a surprise exit a fortnight ago with his employers keen to "inject new life" into proceedings. On the eve of the three-year countdown to the opening game of the tournament, ER 2015 chairman Andy Cosslett explained to reporters the decision to replace Vaughan when "the project is on track, on time and on schedule" and his firm belief that Jevans is the right person to ensure his organisation delivers the "biggest and best" World Cup that they promised.
"It's always difficult to change leadership and formation of a team that is operating well and there is no issue in any way about our management of this event to date," he said at ER 2015's Twickenham HQ. "I think when you are trying to deliver something as ambitious as we are, and we have been very clear about our intention to make this the biggest and the best World Cup that has yet been held in every way, that demands constant scrutiny of the team and the leadership and what we believe going forward is the best balance in that team.
"You are always looking for balance like you do on the field and new dimensions that will give you the extra percentage in terms of performance and the board felt that Debbie particularly, given her exposure having been one of the architects of the Olympics and Paralympics, with unparalleled exposure to what was involved and the detail that went into planning and the development of that event and how you make normal venues very special, was the new dimension that we didn't have."
ER 2015 hopes to sell 2.9m tickets to cover the cost of the £80m guarantee paid to the International Rugby Board for hosting rights and to do so they are aware that they will need to attract the nation as a whole and not just the traditional rugby audience. It is a sizeable task and one that they think Jevans is perfect to spearhead having played a key role in a sporting event that set new standards in terms of engagement.
"We had a very strong experience in rugby within the team, we had event management experience but we didn't have the dimension that Debbie brings which was the exposure to other sports and the level of expertise you will only find with something of the magnitude of the Olympics and Paralympics.
"We want this event to be the best in many ways including inclusivity, we want it to touch more people outside of the immediate rugby world. The legacy benefit that the World Cup brings is the ability to increase participation and just to get people who don't normally follow the game to re-think what they think about the game of rugby.
"To do that you can't continue to think down traditional lines and therefore you are looking for people with a different point of view who can bring an extra dimension and that is what Debbie is going to bring. In every respect she brings new value to the team that Paul wasn't in a position to do because he hasn't got that experience."
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Graham Jenkins is the Senior Editor of ESPNscrum and you can also follow him on Twitter.