Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Ritchie: World Cup to benefit clubs

RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie stresses the impact of a home World Cup will be felt by the Aviva Premiership clubs

The Aviva Premiership clubs' demand for £14million of World Cup compensation has been met with a reminder that they will also benefit from the staging of the tournament.

Rugby Football Union chief executive Ian Ritchie disagrees with the figure being sought due to next season's Premiership campaign being pushed back until October because of England 2015.

While Ritchie accepts there will be a loss of business because of the delay, he stresses the impact of a home World Cup will also be felt by the clubs.

"We understand there may be some losses, but we must also recognise there will be something that looks like an upside such as better attendances and more interest," Ritchie said.

"Inevitably there's a focus on compensation, but I look at it slightly the other way round in that the World Cup is a huge positive for club rugby.

"I believe it will be an economic success for the clubs.

"It's true there will be some immediate impact at the start of the competition, but I'd certainly hope there would be a considerable upturn interest in the sport.

"If the World Cup is half as successful as I think it will be, I think it be an economic success for rugby.

"We should not lose sight on the positive impact of 2015, not just the compensation."

Ritchie revealed there is a will within RFU and Premiership Rugby to bring the matter to a resolution within the year.

Meanwhile, England are intent on challenging the financial rewards on offer in French club rugby as a central feature of their strategy to prevent a post-2015 World Cup player drain.

Ritchie has highlighted the importance of making it commercially feasible for members of Stuart Lancaster's squad to reject an approach from the Top 14.

It is current RFU policy to only select those playing at non-English clubs in exceptional circumstances, a position Ritchie views as "fundamental" to retain control of England internationals.

"We should be absolutely at the top of the pile here. We should help to try and achieve that and we should be unashamed of that," Ritchie said.

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