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England make radical bid for 2007 World Cup

Published Oct 21, 2002


London - The 2007 rugby union World Cup will also include a competition for 32 of the lesser nations if England win the right to host the tournament the Rugby Football Union announced on Monday.

England are battling France to host the World Cup but they believe their revolutionary proposals will carry the day when the winner is announced next April.

The original date for the announcement was to have been November 14 but last Friday the world governing body the International Rugby Board (IRB) said they needed clarifications on both of the countries plans.

England's bid will come under particularly heavy scrutiny at the IRB Council meeting in November as they said it did not meet with the requirements laid-down by the prospectus for hosting the tournament.

However the RFU's operations director Terry Burwell said their bid was the best as it would be a genuine world event for the sport where everyone would get a chance to be involved.

"The 16-team RWC and 32-team RWC will provide 100 matches, involving 48 nations, and ensure that the game has a strong and wide-reaching world platform from which to showcase the sport," Burwell said.

"Our innovative proposal includes a new 'Super Eight' stage to be introduced after the first round pool matches have been completed to increase the number of competitive games, and ensure the winning team will have played five of the top eight sides in the world."

The RFU's version for 2007 will see teams playing a round robin in four pools of four.

The top two teams in each pool would then progress to the Super Eight format, in two groups of four.

The Nations Cup will feature 28 teams currently ranked outside the world's top 20. The remaining four teams will include those who do not qualify for the next World Cup.

The RFU's bid to become sole hosts in four years' time will also include matches played at 16 top-flight stadia around the country.

These will include Manchester's Commonwealth Games stadium, Old Trafford, Bolton's Reebok Stadium and Southampton's St Mary's Stadium.

Traditional rugby hotbeds will also be utilised though, such as Welford Road, Leicester, Northampton's redeveloped Franklin's Gardens and Kingsholm, the location of current Premiership leaders Gloucester.

RFU chief exeuctive Francis Baron claimed the tournament would be the most lucrative and widely seen since its inception in 1987.

"We believe we have tabled a strong bid," said Baron, who was accompanied by fellow high-ranking RFU officials and leading players.

"Through excellent forward planning, we aim to make the Rugby World Cup 2007 the most widely experienced, viewed, read about and listened to rugby event ever, and we will put in place a creative marketing programme to ensure the best commercial return for our partners."

France have yet to unveil their plans. - Sapa-AFP

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