Italy talk up Rugby World Cup bid chance

Many consider the Italians as outsiders for being awarded the right to host the 2015 or 2019 edition of the Rugby World Cup but the Italians have been talking up their chances.


An Italian Rugby Federation (FIR) party will this week present its bid details to the New Zealand Rugby Union who will host the 2011 tournament as the race for votes starts ahead of the announcement at the end of July.


The 2011 Rugby World Cup will be held in New Zealand and the IRB have asked for bids to be submitted for the 2015 and 2019 world cups which they will announce simultaneously on July the 28th.


Initially nine nations bid for the right to host the tournaments but five dropped out and now Italy, South Africa and Japan want to host either the 2015 or 2019 event while England are standing for 2015 only.


The odds for Italy appear to be stacked against them but FIR board member Andrea Rinaldo today said Italian government support which is not always easy to achieve would guarantee financial success while meeting the strict demands of the IRB.


“We’re serious, we know how to handle major sports events, we would love to have rugby glory in the country as a whole,” Rinaldo told NZPA.


“It would send a clear and positive message about the globalisation of rugby.”


The current Italian coach Nick Mallet (a South African born in England) says that just 0.1 percent of Italy’s 60 million population are rugby players which means that there is enormous scope to grow the sport which a World Cup usually does.


The pledge of the Italian bid is “for the enlargement of the frontiers of our sport”, building on the growth in rugby since the country joined the SixNations tournament almost 10 years ago.


Rinaldo pointed to the success of the 2007 which was held in neighbouring France and said the tournament would be held at the same time of year, from early September to late October.


He added that Italy would be able to handle a tourist influx and would use an efficient national train service for transportation.


The final would be played at Rome’s 83,000-seat Stadio Olimpico, which hosted the 1990 soccer World Cup final, while other nine other venues used mostly for soccer were ready to go.


All Blacks assistant coach Wayne Smith was in Rome in March to see a SixNations game between France and Italy and spoke of the changing role of rugby in Italian society.


“I was really impressed at the way the families get into it,” Smith said.


“I think they’re sick of the soccer mentality (hooliganism)… and I think it’s become a bit of a chic sport over there.”

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