SA enters race for rugby World Cups

DUBLIN - South Africa rugby officials yesterday tabled their bid to host the biggest World Cup ever in 2015 as they attempted to see off competition from England, Italy and Japan.

DUBLIN - South Africa rugby officials yesterday tabled their bid to host the biggest World Cup ever in 2015 as they attempted to see off competition from England, Italy and Japan.

South Africa and Japan also tabled proposals to host the 2019 tournament.

A decision on the hosts of both events will be made by the IRB on July 28.

As the would-be hosts put their bids to the International Rugby Board (IRB) in Dublin, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) revealed that it believed it could sell three million tickets for the tournament by using major soccer stadiums and delivering full houses at every match.

The new Wembley (90000 capacity), Old Trafford (76000) and Arsenal's Emirates Stadium (60000) are all envisaged as venues for matches, along with Twickenham, the home of English rugby, and the Millennium Stadium in Wales.

Though England could be able to deliver a bigger tournament than their rivals, the IRB also has to consider how to develop the sport outside its traditional heartlands, which could help both Italy and Japan.

Japan narrowly missed out on hosting the 2011 tournament to New Zealand and is billing its bid as a potential platform for an explosion in rugby across Asia.

"To have a World Cup in Asia would be a great leap forward for world rugby. Our message to the IRB council members is that 60percent of the world's population lives in Asia," said Japanese Rugby Union president Nobby Mashimo.

But commercial considerations could weigh against the Japanese with the most valuable television rights being sold in Europe and broadcasters in the region keen for matches to take place in their time zone.

That plays to the advantage of South Africa, who are basing their bid on memories of the successful 1995 tournament and infrastructure being put in place for next year's football World Cup finals.

RFU chief executive Francis Baron said England's bid represented a "low risk, high return" option for the IRB in uncertain economic times and pledged that all profits would be ploughed back into rugby development. - Sapa-AFP

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