A look at the year ahead in 2014
With the building blocks for Rugby World Cup 2015 now firmly in place, preparation for the world’s third largest sporting event now moves from planning to delivery in 2014.
With seven qualification spots still to be decided, more than two million tickets set to go on sale, the launch of a volunteer campaign and an international trophy tour, the next 12 months represent a hugely exciting period in the build-up to RWC 2015.
Plan your tournament
On 1 January, ticket-inclusive supporter tour packages start to go on sale through Official Travel Agents, giving rugby fans across the world the chance to plan the trip of a lifetime and secure their place at RWC 2015. Then in February, official hospitality packages will go on sale, offering a range of different match-day experiences.
In May, rugby fans that are members of rugby clubs in England will have the opportunity to purchase tickets through their clubs. Tickets will then go on general sale to the public in September, before any remaining tickets are offered on a first-come first-served basis in November.
The search for volunteers begins
In February the nationwide campaign to find 6,000 volunteers will launch. With over 75 per cent of volunteers set to come from rugby clubs in England, tournament organisers England 2015 will reward those who give their time to rugby week-in week-out with the opportunity to play a key role in the delivery of the game’s most important event.
Thirteen qualified, seven to go
In March, the race for the seven remaining qualification places resumes. The European Nations Cup 2014, which doubles up as the second half of the region’s qualifying process, will determine the two direct European qualifiers. The winner and runner-up will join Pools C and D respectively, with Georgia and Romania currently occupying the top two spots at the mid-point of European qualification. Across the Atlantic, the two-legged Americas 2 qualifier between USA and Uruguay will also take place in March and determine who joins Pool B.
Kenya, Madagascar, Namibia and Zimbabwe will battle out the Africa Cup in June and July with the winner set to join Pool C as the Africa 1 qualifier. In Asia, Japan will be hot favourites to win a seventh successive Asian 5 Nations title and join Pool B. In Oceania the Cook Islands and Fiji will face each other on 28 June for the right to qualify and become the fourth team known in Pool A. The winner of the Oceania qualifier will take on hosts England in the opening game of the tournament. The qualification process will culminate with the Repechage, which will complete Pool A and determine the 20th and final team at RWC 2015.
Teams set to choose their bases
Working in conjunction with representatives of the already qualified unions and bases from around the country, the participating nations will confirm their preferences of team base locations by mid-2014. The approved bases, which range from sports clubs to universities, consist of indoor and outdoor training facilities, hotel, gym and pool, and will play host to the 20 competing teams. Up to 50 bases will be used at RWC 2015, with England 2015 committed to finding the best possible training environments for the world’s best teams.
Around the world in 400 days
To mark 500 days to go until the start of RWC 2015, the Webb Ellis Cup tour will start its journey around the world in May. The international trophy tour will see rugby’s most prized possession travel to many of the already qualified nations and raise awareness of the tournament in emerging rugby nations, before returning to England to start the domestic trophy tour on the 100 days to go milestone.
With the clock ticking down to 2015’s much anticipated six-week celebration of rugby, and a busy year ahead, fans can stay up to date with all the latest news from RWC 2015 by signing up to The Front Row.