RWC 2015: World Cup bigger than host nation

England’s premature exit not the end of the world for organisers

World Rugby chief executive, Brett Gosper has back tracked on disapproving views he held about England's humiliating departure from the Rugby World Cup.

In March the Australian official Tweeted that World Rugby desperately wanted to see the hosts emerging from the pool phase of the event.

"England fails to exit pool in World Cup not the words we want to hear in RWC2015," he tweeted.

Gosper was reacting to England's humiliating exit from the Cricket World Cup following their 15 run defeat to Bangladesh.


“I think at the time I said that, I didn’t know what I know now,” said Gosper on Monday. “There was a view that the tournament would stutter with England no longer involved. We are not getting any sense of that at all.

“With the tournament being in full swing, and as I’ve said a juggernaut with huge success and momentum, I would say it has very little or no effect on the global nature of this tournament. Most tournaments, if not all tournaments around the world, would like the host to do well enough to keep that momentum going in the host country.

“My sense this is a very mature sporting market. They love their sport. They love the event and we’ve seen that already. They will move on from the defeat of their team.”

Gosper pointed to the record Rugby World Cup crowd of 89,267 at Ireland's game against Romania in Wembley and the attendances at all of the 40 matches over the last 24 days supported his claim.

However, England Rugby 2015 Managing Director, Stephen Brown, conceded that England's premature departure from Pool A has been a negative factor for the competition.

“I think there is no question that we are disappointed that England, the host nation, are not involved in the knockout phase. I don’t think we can shy away from that,” said Brown.

“That is a challenge. We were always ready for 12 teams going home after the pool phases. We always knew that one big nation was going to go out of the Pool A. It was always going to be that way. We are disappointed it was England.”

World Rugby, however, said that England’s departure has not affected the global reach or commercial success of the event as all of the deals with television as well as ticket sales were completed before the matches began.

“It doesn’t affect ticket sales as we’ve already sold them,” said Brown.

The organisers confirmed that over 2.41 million tickets have been sold across all 48 matches with over 1.8 million fans attending the pool phases of the matches.

They also said that the issue of the TMO and matches running for as long as 10 to 15 minutes over the 80 minutes were a problem in the first week of the tournament but have been ironed out.

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson is a sports writer with The Irish Times