The International Rugby Board (IRB) at a meeting in Dublin gave Australia the formal go ahead to stage the fifth Rugby World Cup in October and November 2003.
Speaking in Sydney, Rugby World Cup General Manager, Matt Carroll, today released an immediate action plan for preparations saying they are on track and planning would now "go operational". He said the immediate priorities are to:
- Determine the match schedule for 48 matches across seven weeks
- Lock in venue agreements now that the sole hosting status is confirmed
- Further build the management and staff team that will plan and stage the event
- Formulate marketing communications, ticketing and advertising programmes
"We have a tight time frame but we have the plan, the experience and the people to deliver the best Rugby World Cup ever," said Carroll. "Although the kick off is less than 18 months away, we have been on the job since winning the right to host the Cup back in 1997.
"Our plans have been signed off by the IRB in principle and some fine tuning will see us comfortably accommodate the additional 23 matches that result from being the sole host. The Rugby World Cup match schedule will embrace the nation with matches played in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Canberra as well as a number of regional centres. Which cities host which matches will not be confirmed for another month.
"Just as the Olympics caught the imagination of Australia, I expect the Rugby World Cup will do the same but with a different and more intense kind of passion, enthusiasm and interest that only rugby can generate. The excitement and celebrations that we witnessed during last year's tour by the Lions will be seen over and over again toward the end of 2003 when twenty nations do battle for the ultimate prize in world rugby.
"The Australia Rugby Union is in the fortunate position of having excellent partnerships between venues, State and Territory Governments and the host cities. It is these partnerships that will help us deliver what we have promised. I will be traveling to Dublin next week to meet with Rugby World Cup Limited to discuss finalizing the match schedule as well as issues such as venues, timetable, ticketing, marketing, broadcasting and technology.
"We will also be building the team of people that will deliver the Rugby World Cup and preparing our communications campaign to inform people in Australia and overseas about the event. This team will also work on a range of programs such as media, tourism, volunteers, logistics, transport, security, education, accommodation, training, health and community-based celebrations."
Carroll said following the launch there would be several milestones in the lead-up to the event:
End of 2002 - Release of ticketing programme
Beginning of 2003 - sale of tickets
Beginning of 2003 - call for volunteers
Third quarter of 2003 - arrival of the teams ahead of the pool matches and the finals in October and November 2003
"In the near future, we will be in a position to launch the event and begin telling the people of Australia about the Rugby World Cup, which is one of the most exciting events on the international sporting calendar," Carroll continued. "While we are driven by the desire to put on the best ever Rugby World Cup, we also want to ensure that we deliver a strong and lasting legacy for Rugby Union in Australia, at both a grassroots level and financially."
The Half a Game initiative is currently sweeping across Wales and proving a major success. The scheme aims to give every young player at least half a game every weekend. WRU TV recently visited a festival in Narberth where clubs have fully embraced the initiative.
Both Bargoed and Swansea were seeking their first win of the Principality Premiership season this afternoon. It proved a fruitful day for the hosts - not only did they win, but Bargoed claimed a try bonus point.
Cardiff managed to keep their unbeaten record at home intact, but only just as Bridgend made them work extremely hard before the Blue and Blacks secured a hard fought Principality Premiership win at the BT Sport Arms Park last night.
Former Wales back row Andy Powell gives a guided tour of The Wern, home of Merthyr RFC, who are determined to prove a lot of people wrong and make their mark in their first season in the Principality Premiership.
Wales Sevens head coach Gareth Williams looks back on the Rio Sevens success where he helped GB win silver. He believes the successful campaign is a huge boost to his Welsh squad as they prepare for another World Series, as WRU TV's Graeme Gillespie discovers
British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland will be heading back home to take on the All Blacks next year where for him, success for 2017 is all about going to New Zealand and winning a Test Series.
Last week all roads led to Eugene Cross Park where defending champions Ebbw Vale hosted this season's launch of the Principality Premiership. WRU TV's Graeme Gillespie was there to capture the thoughts of Damien Hudd, captain of Ebbw Vale, and WRU Head of Performance, Geraint John.
Llandovery made it three in a row when they defeated Aberavon in the final of the National Foster's 7s at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park on Sunday. On another eventful day of sevens, Newport claimed the Plate and the Dragons won the women's crown
Last week saw Cardiff welcome players from around the world for the 21st Golden Oldies Festival. The tournament features players over 35 years of age, and this year's event saw a select few represent the WRU in a 'friendly' against the Wooden Spoon.
Wales Under 18 captain Callum Bradbury is delighted to have seen his side claim a narrow 18-17 victory against a strong SA Schools 'A' side to end the three-match Under 19 International Series in South Africa on a high note.
The Wales U18 squad spent an emotional day in the drug-riddled townnship of Hout Bay. Hout Bay Warriors President Fred Johannes said the visit was 'the talk of the town' and will dream about the day everyday for the rest of his life.
RGC 1404's new head coach Mark Jones is hoping to build 'something special' in north Wales and is already looking forward to the development region participating in the Principality Premiership for the very first time.