Date set for World Cup opener and finale
May 15, 2012
ER 2015 chief executive Paul Vaughan believes the confirmation of the tournament dates bring the event to life © Getty Images
The International Rugby Board has confirmed that the 2015 World Cup in England will kick off on September 18 and culminate at Twickenham on October 31.
The key dates were confirmed at the annual meeting of the IRB Council in Dublin and are the result of an exhaustive review process involving the chairmen and chief executives of the ten tier-one nations.
The decision allows tournament owners Rugby World Cup Limited (RWCL), organisers England Rugby 2015 Limited (ER 2015) and the unions to step up their preparations for what is expected to be the biggest tournament to date.
IRB and Rugby World Cup Limited (RWCL) chairman Bernard Lapasset said: "Throughout this collaborative process we have set out to achieve a Rugby World Cup start date that is good for participating unions, good for our other major international rugby events and ultimately good for the development of the global game.
"September 18 achieves just that and coupled with a new and robust collaborative funding model, we have collectively moved to address the challenges that face our unions during a Rugby World Cup year."
The RFU was understood to want an early September start to ensure the tournament finished before the clocks go back in late October. However, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Argentina wanted a date towards the end of the month to allow the Super Rugby and Rugby Championship competitions to be played in full, but the World Cup organisers are confident that the tournament dates will have a "minimal collective financial impact on participating unions and other major international rugby competitions".
The compromise over the start date will also have an impact on the Aviva Premiership. World Cup rules state that no professional domestic competitions can take place in the host nation during the tournament with Premiership Rugby set to either delay the start of a shortened fixture list or begin the season earlier than usual and break for the World Cup.
Organisers can now press ahead with the process of confirming match schedules and venues; proposed stadiums have included Premier League football grounds Anfield, the Emirates Stadium and Old Trafford.
The IRB has also unveiled a collaborative supporting funding model for the tournament that follows widespread criticism of the existing set-up during last year's World Cup. New Zealand hit the headlines by suggesting that they would not be able to compete in 2015 - due to a reduced number of home Tests during a World Cup year and having to drop their sponsors for the tournament - unless the financial model was changed.
The new model will see the IRB invest an extra £50million in the global game between 2012 and 2015, in addition to the £150million already being invested between 2009 and 2012. The IRB has also set up a working group composed of its own representatives and those of the unions "to consider potential changes to the Rugby World Cup 2015 commercial rules proposed by the IRB to deliver overall optimal value to Unions and the IRB without impacting the ongoing growth of the tournament commercial programme".
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.