Rugby Expo 2014: Day Two Review

October 24, 2014

After two days of thought-provoking and enlightening discussion at Rugby HQ, anesthetist the curtain has come down on Rugby Expo for another year.

Just a stone’s throw from where England will kick off their 2015 Rugby World Cup campaign in less than 11 months, recipe the list of accomplished guests and speakers was impressive.

Thursday’s delegates were treated to a packed schedule surrounding the role of clubs, unhealthy communities and schemes in the sport’s future.

Two such schemes – Breakthru and Play – are run by Premiership Rugby and Women’s World Cup winner Tamara Taylor was on hand to spread the message.

“Projects like this are going to be massive,” she said. “It really does help that there is success at the elite level but it has got to filter down into clubs.

“If you can keep getting the message out there, the unique selling point of rugby is that every single shape or size can play it. Rugby wants you – get yourself down to the club.”

Taylor’s England team were half of a World Cup double this summer, as the women’s and the U20 sides each returned to these shores with silverware.

And whether or not Stuart Lancaster’s side make it a hat-trick, the Expo was a hunting ground for those in search of ways to capitalise on next year’s tournament and play their part in a rugby boom.

“Already the atmosphere is building and we are getting people talking about who they will support,” said Debbie Jevans, chief executive of England Rugby 2015.

“We have sold out matches involving Samoa, USA and Tonga in places like Brighton, Exeter and Gloucester.

“I think it just shows how popular rugby is in this country. Our ambition was to take the Rugby World Cup to the whole country – it wasn’t just about Twickenham.”

Arun Kang, chief executive of Sporting Equals, added: “This is a great opportunity for rugby.

“The Olympics are approaching and people are talking about a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“If you think about the Rugby World Cup and the Olympics, this is going to put this sport into every single household in the country.”

And RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie, who had the honour of officially opening the event on Wednesday morning, summed up the day’s motif.

“Every club has a relationship with the local community, town, city, village – whatever it may be,” he said.

“We are trying to put in certain mechanisms but at the end of the day, what is the objective? It is all about making great memories and having a fantastic event.

“This is all about investing back in the game.”