As we near the end of the Rugby World Cup, it has become apparent that many of my friends have enjoyed it almost too much, with their livers and wallets now hanging by a thread, writes Rugby Business Network founder, Colm Hannon.
The tournament has been a bit like Christmas back home in Galway, when many return from overseas to visit friends and family. I’ve met dozens of RBN event organisers from around the world and, as a result, we have new events planned in Canada and Portugal.
Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned over these last few Rugby World Cup weeks:
- Japan are the bravest and most exciting of all rugby teams and we have a lot to look forward to when they host the next RWC. Eddie Jones is also one of the most special coaches and he showed what a great coach can do when given talented players with bags of potential.
- Tier one and tier two rugby nations will become an out-of-date term in the next 12 years. Almost all international players now play rugby full-time somewhere and as a result the gaps have closed in fitness and strength levels. The time the squads have together and the level of regular international opposition they get will makes a huge difference in the future. Georgia should make the Six Nations the Seven Nations ASAP.
- Argentina have benefitted massively from being in the Championship and are a very exciting team to watch. Japan should join them in the Championship.
- It really does make a difference for the host nation to be in the competition for as long as possible. The RWC was still great fun after the pool stages, but having England in it would have made it an even bigger occasion. I hope Japan get out of their group during the next World Cup.
- People are prepared to pay more for tickets than I thought. I paid £250 to watch France play Ireland in Cardiff. That’s the most I’ve paid for a face value ticket without hospitality. Let’s see what happens to 6 Nations ticket prices after the RWC.
- Following the London Olympics, this RWC has shown the world that the Brits really know how to host a top sporting tournament.
- Referees are part of a tight team. Wayne Barnes and Nigel Owens spoke of Craig Joubert’s decision at a Cancer Fundraising event and it made me realise they are fiercely loyal to each other. They are also good human beings who are committed to the game and they make mistakes like we all do. What we should not allow is press slating the refs and we certainly shouldn’t accept pundits attacking refs on social media. The refs are on our side and we need to respect and protect them as a community.
- The All Blacks are simply the best team in the World and it comes from culture, attitude and values.
- Stuart Lancaster has done an amazing job of building culture, attitude and values with England. He made decisions that didn’t work out, but he is someone I admire and respect as a man even more after seeing how noble he was in defeat. He’s a good, honest hard-working and passionate Englishman. Again, the press went for the jugular and that’s something more usually associated with football than rugby. Loyalty and respect are part of our game and let’s not forget it.
- Rumours spread fast. I heard from a friend that the French team had revolted against Phillipe Saint-André and I now know that it was a rumour started by a reporter looking for his 15 minutes of fame. I’m ashamed to say I didn’t qualify the story before passing it on to friends. I will be more discerning in future.
- Centralised ticketing and hospitality does work. Fair play to World Rugby on keeping the ticketing and hospitality in house. It worked.
- Don’t buy your RWC tickets on StubHub. A friend bought my dad and I tickets to Japan v South Africa and we were 2 of 300 people refused entry on those tickets. A fraudster had sold the tickets they bought, claimed they were lost, had replacements delivered and sold them too. I hope they’re caught and serve a sentence for fraud.
- The country with the most potential in rugby is the USA. So many people have said it during this RWC, but thankfully for us their own government and sports advertisers haven’t figured it out yet. I was lucky enough to meet the USA team at the US Ambassadors house in Regent’s Park. That place is amazing and the Ambassador seems like a top boy!
- Never, ever, ever consider the Aussies as beaten. That country, its people and their spirit never cease to impress me. They hate to lose, they love to win and they never give up.
- Technology has played its biggest role ever in the RWC. Just 8 years ago, who would have thought we’d have such great apps to help book trains and taxis, or buy tickets and merchandise. We discuss the games on social media and new websites have almost made ticket touts obsolete. The Internet continues to be an important tool for rugby and mobile technology will lead the way for future events.
- Having an official charity for the tournament, Tackle Hunger Together, was the right thing to do. With more and more businesses benefiting from the game, we should give more. See the RBN website for a list of our charity partners who would love to work with you.
There are of course many more lessons, but it’s truly been the best organised and most commercially successful RWC ever. Well done to Brett Gosper, the CEO of World Rugby. I hope England pass their lessons on to Japan and it is equally successful. I for one can’t wait to be there.