International Rugby Board CEO Says United States Not Ready To Host World Cup
Int'l Rugby Board CEO Brett Gosper said that the U.S. "is not ready to host a rugby World Cup and needs to establish a sustainable professional league to help develop the sport there," according to Greg Stutchbury of REUTERS. The sport's "global showpiece" has only been held in "traditional rugby strongholds." The IRB, however, "has awarded hosting rights for the 2019 tournament to Japan." Gosper: "There is no question that anything that would drive interest in the (United) States would be fabulous. It would drive very high commercial revenues through broadcast (agreements), but I don't think they would be ready for a World Cup yet." Gosper added that by awarding the '19 tournament to Asia, it was "likely the subsequent event would return to a traditional rugby market before the IRB looked to expand into newer areas" (REUTERS, 4/22).
EQUAL FOOTING: The BANGKOK POST reported the IRB said that it has "revamped the 2015 World Cup match schedule to stop giving top nations an unfair advantage by allowing them a week's rest between games." Gosper also said that he had "moved to clamp down on clubs preventing players from smaller nations attending the tournament." However, Gosper admitted that "it was a difficult problem to solve." Small nations "complained bitterly" during the 2011 World Cup that "the timetable was skewed towards the game's traditional superpowers" because their matches were scheduled on weekends to maximize TV audiences. This gave teams six or seven days to recover, while the less high-profile sides "often had to play midweek and weekend matches." Gosper said that the timetable for the '15 tournament in England, due to be released in late April or early May, "had been altered to fix the problem." Gosper: "There's very strong fairness in terms of rest periods and so on. It will be the same for all teams" (BANGKOK POST, 4/22).