The North / South Rugby Divide – Part 2

rugby world cup

So, Debbie Jeavons is the new CEO of England Rugby 2015, starting her role in October. Debbie who?, you may ask.

Well, ‘Our Debs’ certainly has the pedigree to make the World Cup a commercial success having run her own sports consultancy before becoming general secretary of the International Tennis Federation (she was a tennis player), and she is largely responsible for returning both tennis and rugby to the Olympic programme. She served as director of sport for London 2012 during the bid process and had responsibility for compiling the venue strategy and gaining sign off from all the international federations. She was then tasked with delivering the 26 Olympic and 20 Paralympic sports events as well as the Games-wide medical and anti-doping programmes.

This is a formidable woman who makes things happen and who almost made me choke on my Scott’s Porage Oats this morning when I caught a brief interview with her on Auntie Beeb in which she, condescendingly, sought to justify the 2015 World Cup fixture venues as ‘non-Londoncentric’!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

EXCUSE ME. 48 fixtures, almost half in the South East, 17 in London, 3 in Newcastle (it’s for the night-life), 2 in Leeds and a paltry 1 in Manchester. Will someone please explain to me exactly how that represents ‘taking the sport to the nation’?

We know that the powers that be have backed themselves into a corner with a commitment to getting the thick end of a gazillion bums on seats and delivering £80 million to the I.R.B. but, seriously??? This is a once in a generation opportunity to expand the reach of the greatest team sport on the planet and it has been cynically sold down the river in another blatant example of short term commercial gain. Does anyone sniff a developing parallel with Premier League football ?

And, if the need is to pack larger stadia as seems evidenced by the inclusion of non rugby venues, why has Sandy Park got 3 fixtures? I know they don’t have much in the way of football down there, and whilst I have enormous respect for what the Chiefs have achieved, if I read my stats correctly the capacity is currently below 11000. Also, for those who haven’t been to Exeter, take a look on the map of the U.K. – Exeter almost looks closer to New York than to London.

I know that Man Utd, in their typically arrogant manner, pulled the plug on Old Trafford late in the day but in the North west we have the Salford City Stadium (capacity 12000 for the innumerates in London), the Etihad, D.W., Reebok (already a host to Union), and other large football stadia on t’other side of t’ Pennines, not to mention a host of good Rugby League facilities.

It all just smacks even more of a distinct anti-North West bias but do feel free to debate the point.

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