Ben Kay Column
London 2012 sets the bar for Rugby World Cup
August 2, 2012
Can England Rugby 2015 learn from the many success seen at London 2012 including the staging of the beach volleyball at Horse Guards Parade © Getty Images
You cannot help but be impressed by the organisation of London 2012 and it has certainly set the bar in terms of the staging of future sporting events in the country. So far it has been brilliant and the way the nation has got behind it will not have been lost on the organisers of England 2015 who will be keen to build on the success of the Olympics.
Some people questioned whether we were able to put on a show like the Olympics but I have been fortunate enough to go to a number of sporting events and I can't remember one as organised as well as this one - and as much fun. It make you very proud to be British and hopefully it will serve as the perfect warm-up for when the Rugby World Cup returns here in a few years' time.
It could be argued that the successful staging of the Olympics could cast a shadow across any future event but the World Cup organisers will have no doubt learnt so much. I am sure they will be mining the brains of those people who put it all together for LOCOG and there will probably also be a crossover of people who worked on the Olympics who will now move onto the World Cup.
It has been phenomenally successful in so many ways. I went to the beach volleyball this week and was not only impressed by the action but the events around what is a superb temporary arena at Horse Guards Parade. I know ER2015 are already onto that and thinking about what they can do outside the stadiums that will generate the interest. Not everyone will be able to go to the games or want to but if you can generate the feeling around it and the national pride and party atmosphere then they are onto a winner - the rugby will look after itself.
On the subject of the Olympics, I think we have to be careful when considering what a return to the programme will do for the sport. I am very much included in the group that some sports should not be included - like football, tennis and golf - as it is not the pinnacle of those sports and the Olympics really should be. The way that Rugby 7s has been pitched is slightly different and I think it will be the ultimate prize in that form of the game. Rugby XVs should never be an Olympic sport because the World Cup will always be the pinnacle, but 7s will be and it's a game that should appeal to the Olympic way and it will be pivotal in shaping the future of the sport.
We already have the likes of Russia putting it on the school curriculum in order to ready themselves for challenges further down the line and you have many countries that have supreme athletes in genetic and physical shape for rugby getting their first taste of the sport that will eventually result in some decent teams being put together.
Then there is China that is already proficient in so many sports. The sheer number of people in that country means there is potentially a fantastic pool of players to meet the demands of every position not only in 7s but also XVs. You only have to look at the size of some of their NBA stars to see that but a title challenge is still some way off. The Rio Games may come too soon for them but don't be too surprised if they are challenging for a medal.
Friday night will also offer up a feast of 7s action in the final of the J.P. Morgan Sevens Series. I was working at Kingsholm when Gloucester booked their place in the final in front of a passionate home crowd and they will be many people's favourites to take out the title. Most of the teams have really got behind the tournament and used it as a key part of their pre-season preparations and put strong sides out including the likes of Gloucester and London Irish. It has been by far the most interesting tournament so far and final should also deliver.
Not so special was Graham Henry's recent claim that his side's exit from the 2007 World Cup to France may have been partly due to match-fixing on the part of the referee Wayne Barnes. I know Wayne relatively well and I think he is England's best referee. Some New Zealanders may believe he had a bad game, but I can 100% guarantee that such a thing would never have considered fixing the result. He is as honest a man as I have met. We all have disappointments at games and referee performance whether they are justified or not but to come out in public and suggest someone would have thrown the game is a disgrace.
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