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Page last updated at 06:11 GMT, Wednesday, 9 July 2008 07:11 UK

England and Wales ponder Cup bid

By Gareth Lewis

The logos of the Rugby Football Union and Welsh Rugby Union
The logos of the Rugby Football Union and Welsh Rugby Union

England and Wales could make a joint bid to host the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Rugby Football Union chief executive Francis Baron and Welsh Rugby Union chairman David Pickering have held informal talks about the possibility.

The International Rugby Board (IRB) begins the tender process for the 2015 and 2019 tournaments this month by inviting "expressions of interest".

It will announce in July 2009 who will host the two events, with Japan also set to bid for the 2015 World Cup.

Japan controversially missed out to New Zealand for the right to host the 2011 edition, with South Africa - the other country to miss out then - another possible 2015 bidder.

Baron and Pickering discussed the prospect of a joint England-Wales bid at the IRB's summit in Hong Kong last week.

Their previous meetings on the subject have been described as "positive".

The RFU is understood to be setting up a special group to discuss the proposals and Wales have been encouraged by their success in hosting last month's Junior World Championship.

The next step would be for the plans to go before the boards of the respective unions for approval, before a formal application to host the World Cup is submitted.

An RFU spokesman said: "No decisions have been taken or will be taken until we receive the tender documents from the IRB."

As revenue generation is vital to our ongoing development plans we recognise the World Cup must be regularly held in one of our senior core markets

IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset

The bidding process is a notoriously political affair with unions bartering for votes, often leading to matches being staged in several countries, as happened in France 2007, when games were also played in Edinburgh and Cardiff.

Japan, with England legends Martin Johnson and Jason Leonard among their backers, were widely expected to be handed the 2011 tournament.

But New Zealand were awarded host status in a secret vote amid accusations of a carve-up among the sport's major nations.

The 2011 tournament is not expected to generate anything like the same revenue as the previous two World Cups, in Australia in 2003, and in France last year, however.

The IRB is thus expected to return to one of its 'bankers' in 2015 - with England or South Africa the most likely venue - although chairman Bernard Lapasset indicated rugby might be ready to broaden its horizons.

"As the revenue generation is vital to our ongoing development plans we recognise that the World Cup has to be held in one of our senior core markets on a regular basis," Lapasset said.

"However, the commercial success of the tournament also means we can now consider placing the tournament in new developing markets to assist the game's strategic growth."

The 2007 World Cup was the most successful in the tournament's 20-year history, with 2.25 million fans attending the matches, up to 4.2 billion watching worldwide on television, and an economic impact of 4 billion euros (3.18 billion) in France, according to IRB figures.

see also
Autumn plan for 2011 World Cup
17 Nov 06 |  Rugby Union
Wheeler questions World Cup vote
12 Jan 06 |  Internationals
Japan accepts World Cup decision
09 Jan 06 |  Internationals
New Zealand handed 2011 World Cup
17 Nov 05 |  Internationals
Johnson backs Japan 2011 RWC bid
17 Oct 05 |  Internationals
Rugby World Cup 2007 results
14 Oct 07 |  Rugby Union
BBC Sport Wales coverage
23 Mar 08 |  Wales

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