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Last Updated: Monday, 24 November, 2003, 08:14 GMT
World Cup hailed as best ever
The Webb Ellis Trophy
France will host the next Rugby World Cup in 2007
The 2003 Rugby World Cup has been hailed as a huge hit - both on and off the pitch.

"We were absolutely delighted with it. It has taken it to a new level," said Syd Millar, chairman of the International Rugby Board (IRB).

The six-week tournament was won by England, who beat host nation Australia 20-17 in Saturday's thrilling final in Sydney.

Australian Rugby Union (ARU) chief executive John O'Neill said revenues had also exceeded expectations.

O'Neill expects to reap Aus$80m to 90m from the World Cup, which will be divided between the ARU and the world body.

"The IRB is getting Aus$31m to 32m and we guaranteed them 20m," said O'Neill.

900 rugby balls were used
Players and officials drank 132,000 litres of sports drinks
Bars in Adelaide reported nightly takings 30 times higher than normal

The ARU will retain around Aus$45m, one third of which will be used to develop rugby in Australia.

O'Neill said the tournament's success had returned Australian rugby to financial health.

"Seven years ago we struggled to pay our electricity bill," he said.

Some 1.87m people watched the 48 games across the 44 days, with 91% of tickets available down under going to Australians.

Four hundred jumbo jets ferried an estimated 40,000 international spectators, although the ARU and tourism officials believe that number could be even higher.

The 600 players used 900 rugby balls at 11 stadiums in 10 cities.

England fans celebrate their country's World Cup win
England fans helped boost the local economy down under
Tourism and local economies were among the biggest winners, with bars in Adelaide reporting nightly takings 30 times higher than normal and officials in Melbourne expecting Aus$100m to be injected into the state's economy.

Brewer Heineken imported 30,000 kegs of beer from the Netherlands while players and officials drank 132,000 litres of sports drinks.

It was not all good news for the IRB, with high ticket prices leading to numerous complaints.

Miller said he would chair an IRB committee to examine and rectify any problems that emerged during the tournament ahead of the next World Cup to be held in France in 2007.

Links to more Rugby World Cup stories



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