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Tournament must improve: Rugby WCup boss

Aug 26, 2011 2:34:08 PM - www.ft.lk

Rugby World Cup boss Martin Snedden admits the event in New Zealand has to provide a much better spectacle than the 2007 tournament or the popularity of future showpieces would be at risk.
The former New Zealand international cricketer is in Australia this week trying to entice more people across the Tasman in addition to the tally of around 30,000 already travelling over.

And while the spectator numbers are a major part of the equation the rugby itself is an issue according to Snedden, who doesn't want to see a repeat of the tournament four years ago.

A number of the `07 fixtures were grinding, stodgy affairs, culminating in a tryless final won by South Africa over England.
"If that were to become the norm for Rugby World Cups, then I think it would cause serious problems for the continuing popularity of the event," Snedden said.
Putting on his spruiker's hat Snedden said the main reason Australians should make the trip across the Tasman was because the Wallabies had a genuine chance of winning a third World Cup.
"In my mind, there's no doubt the biggest threat to the All Blacks is the Australian team and if your young backline gets going you can rip us apart, as you did in Hong Kong last year," Snedden said.
He said New Zealanders thought home advantage would be a telling factor, but it would really test the nation if they were eliminated from the competition and failed to justify the favourites tag yet again.
"I think the perfect scenario would be that the rugby itself is exciting, but that eventually New Zealand and Australia funnel their way through to the final at Eden Park on October 23, that would be really delicious," he said.
"Also because of the style of rugby that both teams play that would almost guarantee a gripping final and something befitting a World Cup final.
"The worst case scenario would undoubtedly be the All Blacks getting knocked out in the quarter-finals, as they did last time.
"That would test the character of the nation. I think we would come through it, but it would certainly test us."
Snedden believed one out of Samoa, Fiji or Tonga would emerge as a tournament bolter and cause "some real headaches" for more fancied teams.

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