POSTED: July 28th 2009

Rugby's decision-day double is powerful boost for 2016 Olympic bid

Bernard Lapasset: positive president / lake images
Bernard Lapasset: positive president / lake images

KEIR RADNEDGE / Sports Features Communications

LONDON: English rugby followers of both codes can celebrate a remarkable domestic double after England was awarded hosting rights to the rugby union World Cup in 2015 and the United Kingdom secured rugby league's version in 2013.

The rugby union decision possessed far-reaching significance since the IRB, meeting in Dublin, also awarded the 2019 finals to Japan. This underlines the international spread of the 15-man game, thus sending an important signal to the sports world in general in support of the sport's campaign to regain Olympic status.

Rugby union is promoting its sevens version of the game in a bid to return to the programme of the summer Games in 2016. The International Olympic Committee will decide, in Copenhagen in early October, on two 'new' sports; rugby sevens' rivals are baseball, golf, karate, roller sports, softball and squash.

IRB president Bernard Lapasset and chief executive Mike Miller will now have a powerful extra lobbying tool to hand in demonstrating that the game remains a power not only in its traditional European and Australasian heartlands but out in the wider world.

Japan, a close contender to New Zealand in the 2011 bidding, will be the first Asian country and the first rugby country outside the traditional Big Eight (Australia, England, France, Ireland, New Zealand, Scotland, South Africa and Wales) to play hosts.

Rugby league verdict

The rugby league decision in favour of the UK in 2013 was taken at an earlier meeting of the RLIF in Singapore. Australia had wanted to play host again after their staging success in 2008 but the tournament will now return to Great Britain which last staged it in 2000.

Richard Lewis, deputy chairman of the RLIF and executive chairman of England’s Rugby Football League, said: “This is a great boost for rugby league in the northern hemisphere. The 2008 tournament was an outstanding success and our goal is to build on that success and deliver a profitable tournament that further enhances the sport’s international prestige."

The 2008 World Cup attracted combined crowds of 290,000 and a global television audience of 19.2m, making it the most widely broadcast event in the 13-man game's history.

RLIF members decided on a delay to 2013 to avoid a clash with the London Olympics. They also decided that, next year, it will add the winners of this autumn's Pacific Cup - between Tonga, Samoa, Fiji, the Cook Islands and Papua New Guinea – to the Four Nations’ competition (currently featuring France, England, Australia and New Zealand).

The next decade promises to a remarkable one for sport in Britain with the Olympic Games in London in 2012 and England among the favourites to win host rights for football's World Cup in 2018.

Keywords · England · rugby union · Rugby World Cup · 2015 · United Kingdom · rugby league · IRB · Dublin · 2019 Rugby World Cup · Japan · Olympic Games · 2016 · IOC · International Olympic Committee · Copenhagen · Lapasset · Mike Miller

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