Rugby: World Cup too expensive to host, ARU says

Australia's hugely successful running of the 2003 Rugby World Cup has cost the country the chance to host the tournament again for at least two decades.

ARU chief John O'Neill confirmed today Australia would not bid for 2015 or 2019 hosting rights due to the International Rugby Board's exorbitant asking price.

In addition to bearing all the tournament costs, the host country must fill the governing body's coffers with STG80 million ($NZ210 million) tournament fee for 2015 and STG96 million for 2019.

O'Neill revealed that the IRB's so-called "unconditional tournament guarantee fees" were only introduced after Australia made a $A45 million ($NZ58 million) profit from hosting the 2003 global showpiece.

France had to pay STG56 million to host the 2007 tournament and New Zealand has committed the same amount to take the tournament across the Tasman in 2011.

"I don't accept that," O'Neill said.

"We broke the mould and created a benchmark and so then what they did (for) France is they formalised the guarantee.

"But you've got to wonder how a country like New Zealand -- it's a shadow of the size of France in terms of the size of the economy -- has to come up with the same 56 million-pound guarantee that France did.

"I mean, I think there's some adjustments here that need rethinking. They show no sign of rethinking them.

"We cannot afford to bid ... we can't make those numbers work, and we have run a successful tournament."

Although they have committed $A46 million to support Football Federation Australia's quest to host either the 2018 or 2022 football World Cup, O'Neill understands the unwillingness of the Australian governments -- both state and federal -- in the current economic climate to back any ARU bid to bring another RWC to Australia.

"This recession is terrible," he said.

"The ARU is extremely disappointed but the risk associated with underwriting guarantees for tournaments six and 10 years into the future would not be in the best interests of Australian rugby.

"Risk factors include fluctuating exchange rates and the uncertainty and unpredictability of the world economy."

England, with the support of Wales, along with South Africa, Japan and Italy are the only four countries still in the running to host the 2015 and 2019 tournaments.

O'Neill said the IRB's demands were effectively ruling out all but countries with the largest economies from bidding to host the tournament.

"France was able to do it in 2007. I think England, in brackets Wales, could do it," he said.

"Certainly New Zealand, they were forecasting running at a $NZ30 million [loss]. I suspect that loss may be somewhat greater.

"What worries me is that the IRB has this view that the value of the tournament to the economy in which its being held is so massively valuable that governments should just foot the guarantees, yet the host union could possibly go broke in hosting it."

With the IRB keeping all commercial revenue from broadcasting, sponsorship, corporate hospitality, merchandising and travel packages generated from a World Cup, the host nation has to rely solely on ticket sales for its income.

To break even hosting a World Cup, O'Neill's number crunches estimated the ARU would have to charge upwards of $2000 a seat for a ticket to the final.

Not surprisingly, the ARU deemed such a charge "excessive".






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