One of the central pillars to Great Britain's golden decade of sport was put in place yesterday after England won the right to host the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
The International Rugby Board's 26-man council voted 16-10 in favour of accepting the recommended package of England as hosts for the 2015 World Cup with Japan staging the tournament in 2019.
The Rugby Football Union's success in Dublin guarantees England will host two of the three biggest sporting events in the world — the 2012 Olympics and the Rugby World Cup — inside three years.
The Football Association will complete an unprecedented hat-trick if they are successful in their bid to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup to England.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown said: “The Rugby World Cup is yet another tremendous event to add to the country's decade of sport and another chance to show our nation's passion for sport and what world class facilities we have to offer.
“I'm sure the whole country will want to play their part in making this the most memorable of Rugby World Cups.”
The RFU will not be staging matches in Ireland or Scotland and their plans to use the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff are still to be passed by the IRB.
But RFU chief executive Francis Baron insisted England's desire to stage the biggest and best World Cup ever would benefit rugby across Britain and Ireland.
“It could be a magic decade for sports fans in England and the United Kingdom,” said RFU chief executive Francis Baron.
“We have got the Olympics in 2012, the Rugby League World Cup in 2013, the Commonwealth Games in 2014, we have got the 2015 Rugby World Cup and hopefully the 2018 football World Cup.
“This is a massive day for us. We believe we can do something special with the World Cup and our objective is to make it the best World Cup ever in 2015.
“We want to maximise the impact of a World Cup in England for the benefit of rugby in Britain and Ireland.”
An England World Cup is estimated to bring economic benefits totalling £2.1billion to the British economy. Subject to approval from the World Cup board and the draw itself, the RFU would look to base Ireland near their fanbase in Liverpool and Manchester with Scotland potentially in the north-east.
The RFU now expect to confirm plans to use Old Trafford along with six other club football grounds in Anfield, the Emirates Stadium, St James' Park, Elland Road, St Mary's Stadium and the Ricoh Arena plus Wembley.
Leicester's Welford Road and Gloucester's Kingsholm are the only dedicated club rugby grounds on the roster. The final will be held at Twickenham on October 17, 2015. The RFU are confident they can convince the IRB there is a “compelling reason” for using the Millennium Stadium given its status as a Test rugby ground, its proximity to London and record of high attendances.
However, the IRB could conceivably rule to allow use of the Millennium Stadium providing Wales are not afforded home advantage. A decision is not expected until at least March.
Japan are in a similar boat after submitting their bid with plans to split a pool between Singapore and Hong Kong, although it is hard to see the IRB dismissing that request given their desire to spread the game through Asia.