Rugby World Cup
RWC bid could help football hopes
May 14, 2009
A general view of the Webb Ellis Cup, October 16, 2008
The impact of the Rugby World Cup potentially coming to England has been played up by Andy Burnham © Getty Images

Sports minister Andy Burnham believes that the Football Association's bid for the 2018 World Cup would receive a shot in the arm should the RFU be successful in bringing the 2015 Rugby World Cup to England.

The Government views both World Cup bids as facets of the so-called "decade of sport", which already includes the 2012 London Olympic Games and 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games. Burnham was part of the RFU's delegation to present their bid to the IRB Dublin believes the FA's bid would benefit greatly from the legacy left by the 2012 Olympics and a Rugby World Cup.

"One reinforces the other," said Burnham. "In the case of 2015 I would hope it gives the IRB some security because we will have organised the biggest show on earth. There could be no better preparation. We will be in a heightened state of readiness to make sure the Rugby World Cup 2015 runs smoothly.

"And that stands us in good stead for 2018. With the logistics, the security and infrastructure all being there and working it enables the FA to really show what English football can do for football in the rest of the world, instead of panicking about our own (preparations).

"We can really reach out and support football around the world as the RFU are doing with their bid. What could unfold over the next 10 years could take sport in our country to the next level and to have rugby union at the centre of that is a fantastic prospect."

In the current economic climate the amount of money required (£80m for the RWC) to guarantee the tournaments may be seen as a problem in terms of public perception, but Burnham believes that hosting the tournaments could have a wide-reaching benefit to the economy.

An independent report from Deloitte concluded the economic benefits to the host nation of a Rugby World Cup are valued at £2.1billion. It is considered the third biggest sporting event in the world, behind the Olympics and the soccer World Cup.

"The tax-payer rightly has to say to me: 'Is this the right thing to do? Is this good value for the taxpayer?" said Burnham. "Our argument is that by standing behind the RFU and giving them the security to bid we can boost the UK economy and bring in lots of extra visitors and lots of extra revenue. The boost to the UK economy of what we call our decade of sport is tremendous and could be huge in terms of tourism in particular.

"It is a compelling reason and justifies why the Government stands behind it in the way we do. They will boost the economy, provide jobs and bring prosperity for everybody. This is not frivolous. This is about supporting the economy and supporting sport in our country, both of which are absolutely correct public policy objectives.

"If we are lucky enough to get 2015 it will drive young people to the grassroots of the sport, increase participation and increase the health of the nation. One of the strengths of the bid is that it is right around the country. It does spread the benefit around. It is very persuasive on that basis. Our target for the Olympics is to get two million people active and if we get our decade of sport I am in no doubt we will achieve and surpass that.

"That is why the decade of sport is so important. We have spent a decade investing in sport on every level. When you are bringing people through the grass roots and then you add the high profile events you really have got a country that is fulfilling its sporting potential."


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