Engaging discussions on #IRBConfEx day one

irb sevens 2

November 18, 2013 (ISN) – Rugby World Cup 2015 is set to create ‘unforgettable memories’ and an ever-lasting legacy, according to Debbie Jevans, chief executive of the tournament’s organising committee England Rugby 2015.

Speaking on the opening day of the inaugural IRB World Rugby Conference and Exhibition in Dublin, the former Director of Sport for the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) talked about how Rugby is working together as a Game to deliver the best tournament yet.

“One of the key lessons we learned from 2012 and the Olympic and the Paralympic Games is that no one entity is going to deliver this on their own,” Jevans said during the opening panel session entitled Winning bids and delivering outstanding rugby events: best practice for event management.

“In 2012 we had 26 international federations, 26 IRBs if you like, that we had to work with. It takes partnerships and integration from sponsors to local authorities to governing bodies to unions to deliver a successful major event.

“We are hoping to deliver the best tournament to date and then pass on that knowledge. When people think of 1966 they think of the (football) World Cup, with 2012 they think of the Olympics and Paralympics.

“I want people to think of 2015 as the year of Rugby: one of unforgettable memories. We want to deliver a great celebration of Rugby and all of its values.”

With less than two years to go before Rugby World Cup 2015 gets underway at Twickenham on 18 September, Jevans also outlined the timetable of events set in place to achieve that goal, with the next phase of delivery being the announcement of England Rugby 2015’s ticketing strategy.

Fellow keynote speaker, IRB Head of Rugby World Cup Kit McConnell – another to have a foot in both camps with his recent appointment as IOC Sports Director – stressed how important this is to hosting a successful tournament.

“Ticketing is obviously fundamental to driving revenues, but equally it fills venues, it creates atmosphere, it brings the vision to life in terms of rewarding the Rugby public and reaching out to new audiences,” he said.

“If we can carry on the success that we’ve had with Rugby World Cups in the past in engaging with the host nation and combine that with the incredible appetite there now is for major events in Great Britain, and England in particular, on the back of London 2012 I think we’ll have a sensational tournament.”

Sharing the stage and representing RWC 2019 was Shoichi Midoro from the Japan Rugby Football Union, while Irish Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar took the opportunity to look even further ahead and speak of his desire to bring RWC 2023 to Ireland.

“It’s great for Ireland and for Irish Rugby that the IRB has chosen Dublin for this conference on major rugby events,” said Varadkar. “The timing couldn’t be better as the Government will consider shortly, formal proposals for an all-Ireland bid for the 2023 Rugby World Cup. This would have huge benefits for Ireland’s profile, not least in terms of Rugby, but also for tourism, business, the overall economy and national morale.

“Research commissioned by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport was positive about the feasibility of an all-Irish bid. Obviously it’s still early days, but thanks to the goodwill of the GAA we would have almost all the required stadiums, as well as the Aviva and the provincial rugby stadiums.

“Hosting the Rugby World Cup is probably the biggest international event that a country of our size could achieve. It would be done on an all-island basis. I think people at home and in the diaspora would rally behind the bid if we get the preparation done, and if we can secure the tournament.”

Rugby Sevens’ inclusion in the 2016 Olympic Games was another important topic of discussion during the opening day of the World Rugby Conference and Exhibition which is being attended by more than 600 delegates and 30 exhibitors representing nearly 130 countries.

IRB Chief Executive Brett Gosper, Toshio Tsurunaga, the IOC’s Head of NOC Services, and Patrick Hickey, President of the European Olympic Committees, were among those on the panel for the session entitled Optimising Olympic participation: the window of opportunity presented by Olympic inclusion.

They spoke of the need to harness the expected growth of the Game that Olympic participation will bring through the implementation of the right structures and development procedures in the build-up to Rio.

This session coincided with an Anti-Doping workshop at which Argentina legend Felipe Contepomi gave a presentation on the IRB’s Keep Rugby Clean awareness campaign and promoted the e-learning programme.

Contepomi, one of a number of ambassadors of this campaign, also encouraged everyone to use the resources at that are currently available with the general theme of the workshop being that everybody has to contribute to anti-doping education and everyone has a role to play.

The opening day concluded with an insightful session entitled Sport and the digital environment: engaging and expanding Rugby’s ever increasing audience.

With the average smartphone user checking their device 150 times a day, the need to embrace this form of media was stressed by a panel of industry experts, while time was given to exploring how sports less extensively covered by the mainstream media can boost their profile through avenues such as live streaming of content online.

IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “The opening day of the inaugural IRB World Rugby Conference and Exhibition delivered thought provoking discussions and debate. I am very much looking forward to an engaging and absorbing day two, kicking off with a breakfast discussion with Lord Sebastian Coe.”