The Perfect Storm – Rugby World Cup 2011

The 2007 Rugby World Cup in France proved just how big rugby is. Spectator figures for the live championship bashed though the 2 million barrier in true rugby form for the first time in the tournament’s history according to the sport’s ruling body, the International Rugby Board (IRB). An estimated 4.2 billion television viewers were glued to their T.V. screens during the 2007 Rugby World Cup. Television coverage doubled throughout the world in countries such as Spain, Italy, Portugal and across Asia. There wasn’t any doubt that television viewers in South Africa and the entire southern hemisphere would be responsible for a giant megawatt spike during the championship, but there was surprise that the broadcast viewings shot up dramatically in Russia, India, Canada, and the USA, proving that rugby is hitting global market in a major way.

And no wonder. Both the pool stages and the knock-out rounds at the 2007 Rugby World Cup were of an exceptionally high standard, gripping fans with megawatt levels of intensity. The fight and skill played out on the pitch was relentless. Rugby is a game with a complex psychology that requires the tactics to match and of course the “will to kill” studded with great punch ups, stomping and eye gouging etc. that make it like no other game on earth.

If 2007 was anything to go by the world can expect the perfect rugby storm to hit down in New Zealand in 2011.

After months of speculation whether the number of participating teams would be reduced to 16, the IRB announced on Friday 30th November 2007 that the 2011 Rugby World Cup tournament would again feature 20 teams. Twelve teams have already qualified as a result of finishing in the top 3 in each pool in the 2007 tournament, leaving 8 qualifying berths up for grabs. Argentina, Australia, england, Fiji, France, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Scotland, South Africa, Tonga, and Wales have qualified thus far.

There are sure to be many twists and turns between now and 2011. Three long years stand between us and championship – plenty of time for heavy arsenals to be built. The 2011 World Cup is set to be an all-out war.

Before the existence of the inaugural Rugby World Cup hosted by Australia and New Zealand in May and June of 1987, there were only regional international rugby union competitions. Although the Rugby World Cup is a relatively recent event, the raw, complex and beautiful game of rugby has been around for time. The legendary “Six Nations Championship” began in 1883 as the “Home Nations” championship between England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. In 1910 the “Home Nations” became the “Five Nations” with France stepping across the Channel to join the tournament. From 1931 to 1939 France did not participate and the championship again became the “Home Nations”. In 2000 Italy joined to make it the “Six Nations”.

The Tri-Nations is the oldest rugby series held in the southern hemisphere with the first match played between Australia and New Zealand in 1903. South Africa first toured both nations in 1921.

Rugby union was played at the Summer Olympics for the first time at the 1900 Paris games where France won the first gold medal. The London 1908 Olympics saw the rugby union again with the gold going to Australasia. At the Antwerp games in 1920 and the 1924 Paris games both golds went to the United States. However rugby union was soon removed from the Summer Olympic program.

In the 1950s the idea of a Rugby World Cup was thrown back and forth but met with opposition from most of the unions in the IRFB. In the 1980s the notion was in the air again when the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) and the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) wrote independently to the IRFB in hopes of staging the first Rugby World Cup tournament. In 1985 it was clear that Australia, New Zealand and France were in favour of a world cup. Even the South African delegates voted in favour with the knowledge that the international sports boycott for their apartheid regime would prevent their participation in a world cup. The English and Welsh delegates switched sides and with 10 votes to 6 the IRFB approved the inaugural cup.

Preparations for the 2011 Rugby World Cup are running like clockwork. As of February 19, 2008, New Zealand’s progress in preparing and implementing plans for the event received an A+ rating from the International Rugby Board’s chairman and chief executive.

The 2011 rugby World Cup is expected to cost about NZ$310.0 million to run and will generate NZ$280 million in ticket sales. The 2011 Rugby World Cup will be the largest sporting event ever held in New Zealand, eclipsing the 1987 Rugby World Cup, 1990 Commonwealth Games, 2003 America’s Cup and 2005 British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand. Around 70,000 visitors from overseas are expected to travel to New Zealand as a result of the 2011 Rugby world Cup.

Accommodation solutions for the 2011 Rugby World Cup will have to be creative in order to house the expected 70,000 visitors. Auckland may use cruise ships and campervan sites to help ease any potential accommodation shortage. Many rugby fans can look forward to sleeping on plush cruise ships in the stunning Auckland Harbour.

Visit the official site of Tourism New Zealand to plan your holiday and find out what’s on.

Ticket prices for the 2011 Rugby world Cup are expected to be based on international prices and will reflect the kind of the charges for semi-final and final tickets for the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France. The average price for a 2007 Rugby world Cup semi-final ticket was about $500 and the average price for the final was around $750.

Satria Permadi

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