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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 9 April, 2003, 12:41 GMT 13:41 UK
RFU unveils World Cup revamp
The Rugby Football Union has announced controversial plans to stage the 2007 Rugby World Cup.

The RFU's main proposal is to split the competition into two tiers.

The top 16 teams in the world would play in four pools of four in one tournament, while 32 other countries will take part in eight pools of four in a lesser competition.

The two-tier competition would also see the traditional knockout stages replaced by a new 'Super Eight' system, in which eight teams battle it out in two pools for a place in the semi-finals.

To win, the championship nation will have to have played five of the top eight teams
RFU chief executive Francis Baron
Announcing the bid, chief executive Francis Baron, said: "It is important that the whole global rugby community benefits from England 2007.

"We believe that Australia 2003 will exhaust the current 20-team format. So 2007 must take the competition to the next level.

"To win, the championship nation will have to have played five of the top eight teams.

"The Super Eight stage will create an additional four high quality matches compared to the quarter-finals stage."

The RFU also announced two further proposals:

  • A tournament similar to the one which will take place in Australia next autumn.

  • A 'hybrid option', similar to the current set-up but containing the proposed 'Super Eight' stage.

    The RFU also hopes to move the tournament forward, from its current October timeslot to June, in an attempt to make the competition more successful commercially.

    France, the only other bidding nation, has already announced its intention to hold an identical format to that which exists already.

    Sole hosts

    The RFU's bid to become sole hosts in four years' time will include matches played at 16 top-flight stadia around the country.

    These will include Manchester's Commonwealth Games stadium, Old Trafford, Bolton's Reebok Stadium and Southampton's St Mary's Stadium.

    Traditional rugby hotbeds will also be utilised, such as Welford Road, Franklin's Gardens and Kingsholm.

    "Our aim is to be sole hosts of the event," said Baron.

    "A solo approach clarifies responsibility, accountability and ensures smoother management and logistics, as South Africa proved so effectively in 1995."

    The RFU's preferred proposal will be considered by the IRB Council with a final decision expected soon.

    "Through excellent forward planning, we aim to make the Rugby World Cup 2007 the most widely experienced, viewed, read about and listened to rugby event ever.

    "And we will put in place a creative marketing programme to ensure the best commercial return for our partners. This is a strong bid," said Baron.

    BBC Sport's Ian Robertson
    "It's a compelling concept"

    England coach Clive Woodward
    "I think it's a brilliant bid"

    England flanker Lawrence Dallaglio
    "I support the new format"

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