02 HELEN CLARK

NZ Rugby World - - Outside Influences -

Af­ter miss­ing out on co-host­ing the 2003 World Cup with Aus­tralia there was a school of thought that New Zealand may have missed the win­dow to ever host the tour­na­ment again.

The scale of the World Cup had be­come such that there was a feel­ing it had out­grown the ca­pac­ity of a small coun­try such as New Zealand to suc­cess­fully host.

The tour­na­ment is the main source of in­come for World Rugby and they have to max­imise re­turns so they can con­tinue to in­vest in the de­vel­op­ment of the game.

The big­ger the sta­dia in the host coun­try, the bet­ter. More ticket sales means more rev­enue, and prox­im­ity to pop­u­lous mar­kets in a sim­i­lar time zone makes a huge dif­fer­ence in re­gard to po­ten­tial broad­cast rev­enue. Then there are the lo­gis­tics and in­fra­struc­ture of the host na­tion to con­sider.

In 2005, when Ja­pan, South Africa and New Zealand were all bid­ding to host the 2011 event, the lat­ter was seen as the least likely to win.

It didn’t have scale and was too iso­lated ac­cord­ing to those who felt it was time the tour­na­ment broke new ground and went to Ja­pan, with its enor­mous econ­omy and sta­di­ums.

But, de­spite be­ing fi­nan­cially chal­lenged, New Zealand put to­gether a com­pelling bid, the key to which was the sup­port of the govern­ment.

Not only did they un­der­write the tour­na­ment – giv­ing World Rugby a guar­an­tee about the level of re­turn they would re­ceive – Prime Min­is­ter Helen Clark skil­fully wined and dined del­e­gates be­fore the vote and then gave an im­pas­sioned and en­dear­ing speech as part of the bid.

It is be­lieved she spoke to the Ar­gen­tine del­e­gate in Span­ish the night be­fore the vote and re­galed oth­ers with her easy charm and intellect.

Her role in win­ning votes was crit­i­cal and the World Cup may never have come to New Zealand if it hadn’t been for her.

“I just hope the All Blacks are in it,” she would say a few years af­ter the bid had been won. “The fea­ture of the New Zealand bid which car­ried great weight was the strong back­ing it had from the govern­ment. New Zealand is a small coun­try. Govern­ment sup­port is es­sen­tial for mount­ing a ma­jor in­ter­na­tional sports event of this kind, as has been seen in the past with the Amer­ica’s Cup and the Com­mon­wealth Games.”

CHARM SCHOOL World Rugby was su­per im­pressed by the role the New Zealand govern­ment played in sup­port­ing the 2011 World Cup bid.

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