Supporters will not face segregation at Rugby World Cup 2015, tournament bosses have been at pains to confirm.
World Cup chiefs have scotched speculation fans could be segregated for the first time at the showpiece tournament in England next year.
Tickets for Rugby World Cup 2015 will be on general sale between 12 and 29 September this year. Tournament organisers will release 500,000 tickets this month for sale to supporters through rugby clubs affiliated to the RFU.
“To be absolutely clear: we have no plans to segregate fans,” said England Rugby 2015 CEO Debbie Jevans.
“The beauty of what we’re doing is that we don’t have to worry about segregation, and there won’t be any segregation.”
International Rugby Board chief executive Brett Gosper said social media reaction to suggestions of segregation backed up many of the positive aspects of attending international rugby.
“It showed what rugby fans really value about the way rugby crowds are managed,” said Gosper. “It was a great bit of advertising for rugby almost. I think it was conjecture.
“There has never been an intention to segregate the crowds. It was never discussed at a serious level. We are definitely against that, and everyone will sit together.”
Ian Ritchie, the RFU chief executive, backed the plans to stick with one of rugby’s oldest traditions. “It’s not a principle that fits with how rugby is perceived, and it is not going to happen,” he said.
More than 20,000 people applied for roles as World Cup volunteers, with selection assessments to be staged between June and December. World Cup chiefs want to finalise the 6,000 members of the volunteer group dubbed The Pack in January.
Training centres for all the World Cup teams will be announced in July this year, with qualifications complete by October. IRB chief Gosper remains confident next year’s tournament will eclipse all previous tournaments in terms of revenue
“We believe this is an event that will significantly further the growth of rugby throughout the world,” he said. “We believe that Rugby World Cup 2015 is shaping up to become the record-breaking tournament.
“The hospitality will be the biggest ever for any event in the UK, including London 2012, and we are seeing 146 per cent increases on previous World Cup packages.”
Jevans said efforts are being made to curb ticket resales on sharing websites. “We have never been backward in saying we would like legislation against secondary ticket sale sites,” she said. “We are limiting the number of tickets individuals can buy, and we will only be sending out tickets three weeks to a month before the event.
“It’s our ambition that tickets go to genuine fans, and we’ll do everything we can to ensure that happens.”