England weigh up RWC'15 bid
April 30, 2009
RFU chief executive Francis Baron insists that the bid will only proceed if the risk is 'satifactory' © Getty Images
The Rugby Football Union have yet to decide whether they are prepared to shoulder the financial risk of bidding for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
English rugby chiefs would have to guarantee a payment of £80million to the International Rugby Board if they were selected to host the tournament and RFU chief executive Francis Baron admits the current economic climate makes it difficult to justify that kind of financial outlay six years in advance.
"We have to be entirely satisfied that it is the right thing to do and a sensible risk for the RFU to take," said Baron. "We have to make sure bidding is the right thing and in the best interests of England and the member clubs.
"We are not there yet. We hope to get into that position in the next few days. A number of countries have indicated they are struggling to make the numbers work. It is a difficult ask in the current economic climate for anybody to guarantee £80million for an event taking place in 2015."
Australia recently withdrew their initial expression of interest due to the financial risk involved, while neither Scotland nor Ireland will proceed. The deadline for the RFU to submit their bid is May 8, with a presentation to be made to the IRB in Dublin on May 13. The IRB Council will announce the hosts of the 2015 and 2019 tournaments on July 28.
England's potential rivals for the 2015 event - South Africa, Japan and Italy - all have full financial backing from their respective governments.
The RFU, who have received the public support of Prime Minister Gordon Brown, have been in talks over a funding package with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.
"All bidding unions are going to need their government's support to a greater or lesser extent. In my view no union can do it on their own," Baron added. "We have been working very closely with the government. The DCMS have done a great job in working through the legal, financial and other difficulties.
"We are seeking to pull together a package that works for the government and works for us. It is not just the guarantee but other issues like security."
Scotland withdrew from the tender process last night after failing to build support for a joint home unions bid. If England do bid there will be no formal co-hosting arrangements, although it is understood the RFU would look to hire Cardiff's Millennium Stadium and possibly even the Liberty Stadium.
Meanwhile, the RFU confirmed today that Premier Rugby's proposal of expanding the Guinness Premiership season by six games is now off the table, with a new-look Anglo-Welsh competition set to be introduced during the international windows next season.
No decision has yet been taken on whether to stage a fourth November international this year to help boost Premier Rugby coffers. England are also "unlikely" to be able to accept an invitation from the Irish Rugby Union to open the new Lansdowne Road in November 2010 because they cannot reach an agreement with Premier Rugby over the release of players for a fifth autumn Test.
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