The IRB announced today informal agreements on the format of the 2015 Rugby World Cup following a meeting of the IRB Tier 1 Chairmen and Chief Executives meeting in Auckland on October 10.
With Rugby World Cup 2011 on track to be successful, the meeting was a key step in the Rugby World Cup review process as recommended at the IRB Economics of Rugby Conference in May 2011.
Agenda topics for consideration included the tournament format, the number of participating teams, the match schedule and rest periods and the ongoing review of the RWC commercial model and distribution of revenues.
What that means is, the IRB will be sitting down with major Southern Hemisphere unions to discuss their complaints that the World Cup eats into the revenue they get from summer tours in non-RWC years. New Zealand, and to a lesser extent Australia and South Africa, have in some ways forced the IRB's hand to examine that issue and work on a compensation model for those unions.
During a constructive forum, the delegates unanimously recommended retaining the current Rugby World Cup format of 20 teams spilt across four pools. Delegates also reaffirmed their support of the IRB’s planned review of the Rugby World Cup match schedule to deliver the best possible balance of rest days for all teams.
No specific commitment from the Tier 1 unions on dates for the 2015 World Cup has been seen as a way by these unions to get the IRB to address their revenue concerns quickly.
The Tier 1 Union delegates at the meeting committed to playing mid-week matches during RWC 2015 in order to help achieve a better balance for Tier 2 and Tier 3 Unions.
The meeting also endorsed the commitment to review the Rugby World Cup commercial model, revenue distribution and RWC 2015 start date as planned following the completion of the 2011 event in New Zealand.
While the meeting was not a decision-making forum, key recommendations will be put forward to the IRB Executive Committee and/or IRB Council for consideration.
IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “The success of Rugby World Cup has been essential to the global prosperity and growth of our sport over the last decade. It has delivered the financial platform to enable more men, women and children to participate across all continents over the next decade.
“A review of the format and match schedule is undertaken after every tournament. This scheduled meeting, its recommendations, coupled with the ongoing commercial model review, will ensure that Rugby World Cup continues to serve the needs of the global Game at every level while reinforcing its place as one of the world’s premier sports events.”
“I would like to thank the Tier 1 Chairmen and Chief Executives for their full and open contribution to the meeting and their commitment to the review process.”