Rugby World Cup 2011
'Exceptional' RWC hailed
Bernard Lapasset (AFP)
Auckland - International Rugby Board (IRB) chairman Bernard Lapasset on Monday praised an "exceptional" Rugby World Cup after hosts New Zealand delighted their rugby-mad public with a gripping final win.
Lapasset said the tournament's seventh edition had achieved all its targets, calling it a "sporting and operational success" which had "set the bar" for future World Cup hosts, starting with England in four years' time.
New Zealand beat France 8-7 in Sunday's tense final to win their first World Cup in 24 years and finally make good on years of pre-eminence based on the country's deep-seated rugby culture.
"New Zealand 2011 will be remembered as an exceptional Rugby World Cup. It has been a tournament where New Zealand's rich culture and heritage has gone hand in hand with rugby's tradition and values," Lapasset said Monday.
"New Zealanders should be proud of their event," the Frenchman added.
"They made it special by embracing the tournament the length and breadth of the country, welcoming all 20 teams and 100 000 international visitors with open arms. It was quite remarkable.
"New Zealand 2011 has positioned the country as a major event host, a superb tourism destination and a great country. It has also taken our sport to new audiences and has set the bar for future hosts."
Organisers are slated to make a $NZ40 million (US$32 million) loss on staging this World Cup in New Zealand, according to official figures.
But tournament sponsor MasterCard estimated the shortfall would be dwarfed by the NZ$750 million ($654 million benefit) to the overall economy from increased tourism and consumer spending, with over NZ$2 billion long-term benefits.
"The significant economic benefits demonstrate the true value of Rugby World Cup to a host nation, its government, tourism and business sectors," Lapasset said.
World Cup income accounts for 95 percent of the IRB's revenues, according to a statement issued by the global governing body on Monday.
The IRB added revenue from the commercial programme at this World Cup, including broadcast, sponsorship and travel and hospitality would deliver an estimated 80 million ($128 million) net surplus boost to rugby worldwide.
In the 2009-2012 investment cycle, the IRB said it would invest 150 million to develop rugby around the world in order that "future Rugby World Cups are more competitive and that more men, women and children can play the game".