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Ritchie: Rugby primed for boon

Published 13/05/2015

This year's Rugby World Cup kicks off on September 18
This year's Rugby World Cup kicks off on September 18

RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie believes the sport is in a better place to capitalise on a Rugby World Cup boon than it was in 2003.

Jonny Wilkinson's last-gasp winning drop goal in Australia will live long in the memory and led to a surge in interest in rugby, albeit one which petered out somewhat.

Public interest in rugby will reach its highest peak since then when England hosts the Rugby World Cup in a few months' time.

Ritchie believes this is the most important year since the RFU was formed in 1871 and is confident that this "seminal moment for rugby" can be capitalised on in a more successful way than 2003.

"We hope so, you need to plan for that," he said, speaking at The Telegraph Business of Sport conference.

"There are clubs that get 800 or 1,000 children and you need the coaches and the volunteers to help look after them.

"If you're going to get an influx of that, you've got to be ready to try and deal with it as well.

"It's as basic as enough balls, enough changing rooms, enough facilities.

"What we're trying to do is plan for it and we hope that demand almost exceeds that.

"The other thing is that it has to be sustainable for us. There's occasional things that you get a boost for a few months, but what we need to try and do is get that all the way through over a period of time not just that immediate situation."

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