Paul Vaughan talks to skysports.com about the challenge of building on the success of the 2011 World Cup.
By Tony Curtis - follow me of Twitter: @SkysportsTC
Last Updated: 29/11/11 3:58pm
England RWC2015 chief executive Paul Vaughan admits he is relishing the challenge of building on New Zealand's success.
The World Cup in New Zealand was hailed as a huge success, with the entire country getting behind the event, while the NZRU hit all their targets - on and off the field.
New Zealand had built their World Cup around the motto of "A Stadium of Four Million" - referring to the rugby-mad population.
However with a population of 60million in Britain - and football being the No.1 sport - Vaughan knows he has different obstacles to overcome to make the tournament a success.
"Every single global event has to be challenging itself to be bigger and better than the last one," Vaughan told skysports.com.
"We have different challenges to New Zealand. New Zealand was a fantastic tournament, it was very intimate and well supported by the population not just in the terms of fans but in welcoming people to New Zealand.
"We are going to spread our games out to as far north as we can get, which is Newcastle, to as far south as we can get, which will be Southampton. Then we want to go west and east as well. London is vitally important to us but we will also go as far as Cardiff, which I know isn't in England but the size of the Millennium Stadium helps us enormously in trying to provide a lot of tickets and accessibility from the rugby heartland in the west country.
"In terms of the north, both Lancashire and Yorkshire have churned out so many fantastic players over the years and are very, very strong in terms of participation but obviously it competes hugely against football and rugby league. So there are different challenges in the north versus the south east for instance.
"But we want to make sure we reach as far across the country as possible and we do have that challenge of the round ball game.
"We have got to understand that we, or any other sport in this country, will never be as big as football - it is so far ahead of everyone else it is not worth trying to be that. And therefore we almost become a challenger sport but if you are comfortable in that No.2 or No.3 position and aware of those limitations then there are some very good upsides to it.
"We have a much more intimate audience if you like. We have nine million people in England that follow the game - and that is not a small number by any stretch of the imagination but it isn't the 35-40million that follow football. But it is nine million who are supportive of the values of the game, embrace them and go out and play. That is a fantastic thing. The camaraderie that rugby brings and the lifetime friendships it delivers worldwide - and that is the one thing that sets it apart from football."
While success on the pitch remains the ultimate goal for rugby fans and players, for Vaughan and his team - as well as the IRB - the true impact of the tournament will come off of it.
"There are two things in terms of targets," said Vaughan. "One is about trying to generate a legacy for the sport, about the human capital and getting the numbers of people involved up whether it be playing, refereeing, coaching, volunteering or just watching.
"Then you have the tournament objective of trying to delivering cash for the IRB. The tournament belongs to the IRB, we are merely the custodians of it and we have got to deliver as much money as we can for the good of the game worldwide. It is effectively 95 per cent of the IRB's funding over a four-year period so it is pretty substantial.
"A lot of the countries involved in the sport, particularly the smaller nations, are reliant on the funding or grants from the IRB to be able to sustain what is often a fledgling sport in their country."
Vaughan insists the tournament's ability to deliver the financial goals set out will not be dependent on the success of England, though.
"I think like any tournament, that if your country isn't in it and you aren't hosting it you lose interest in it pretty quickly - unless you are a die-hard fan," he admitted.
"The TV numbers were pretty interesting towards the end of the World Cup in New Zealand when England were no longer in it, as they weren't bad - especially given that the time of day the games were on was not a great time to put big sporting events on. Obviously we have the advantage of the games being in our time zone and that should make it easier.
"In terms of the success financially, because of the way we will do the ticketing it will not be walk up on the day, it is pre-sold. And if you have pre-sold the number of tickets we want, which is just less than three million, then we will manage to achieve our targets and that doesn't rely on England winning."
Vaughan also insists the tournament in England will look to address some of the concerns of the lesser nations, who ended up having to play two games in the space of four days in New Zealand.
"The criticism many had for 2011 was that the tier one nations didn't play midweek so it was unfair on the tier two countries that they had to play after a short turnaround period," added Vaughan.
"I think with our history in this country - certainly with Champions League football - we are used to having big teams playing big events midweek. Therefore from a spectator or television point of view it is easier to accommodate the big games in midweek, whereas in New Zealand they are just not used to it."
Paul Vaughan was speaking to skysports.com at the Rugby Expo event at Twickenham. For more information about the 2012 Rugby Expo conference, please visit www.rugbyexpo.com