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Sydney Opera House © Getty Images
The rugby ball on Sydney's famous Harbour Bridge will be one of the many enduring memories of RWC 2003

RWC 2003: “The Best Ever”

 

24/11/2003

By Mick Donohoe and Matt Porter

The stats speak for themselves. Record crowds through the turnstiles, record television audiences and record profits. Little wonder RWC 2003 has been declared the “best ever”.

At the final press conference of RWC 2003 International Rugby Board chairman Syd Millar declared the Tournament had taken the RWC to a new level.

“The television audience, people through the turnstiles, the money raised, absolutely tremendous, for that we are grateful to the Australian Rugby Union,” Miller said.

RWC2003: The numbers

Figures released today show 1,837,547 people from Australia and around the world attended the 48 RWC 2003 matches with the final attracting the largest ever RWC crowd of 82, 957.

A peak national audience of 4.34 million during Channel 7’s coverage of the final made the telecast the most watched television program of the year.

The official Tournament website rugbyworldcup.com recorded its highest number of hits in one day [44.5 million] last Saturday and received 495 million hits over the duration of the Tournament.

Organisers also estimate a $150 million surplus will come from the 20 nation Tournament.

Two out of three ain't bad

Australian Rugby Union Chief Executive John O’Neill said his organisation set itself three goals for Rugby World Cup 2003.

“First to win it, second to host the best ever Tournament and third to leave a legacy for Australia and World rugby,” O’Neill explained.

“The Wallabies came second and as Meatloaf once said, ‘Two out of three ain’t bad,” O’Neill said.

“Australia has put on the best ever World Cup, Australia has again done itself proud on the world stage.”

Special thanks

O’Neill reserved his highest praise for the Australian public.

“Perhaps my biggest thank you goes to the people of Australia who have well and truly showed their true colours over the past two months.

“The Australian people deserve a world cup on their own right for helping us put on this great event and having a party.”

“It has been amazing in the stands, on the streets, in the pubs and clubs it, RWC 2003, had no boundaries geographically across Australia and demographically across all ages, sexes and social groups.”

“The atmosphere was extraordinary…being at the match venues you had to take a double take…at times you read the newspapers and you wondered if there was anything else going on in the world.

“When people talk about reliving the Olympic spirit (Sydney Olympics) they will talk about reliving the Olympic spirit and the Rugby World Cup spirit.”

O’Neill says television records broke all records and crowded pubs, clubs and live sites added to the extraordinary number of Australians who watched the six-week Tournament.

The legacy

O'Neill also praised ARU Tournament Director Matt Carroll.

“Matt Carroll has done an incredible job,” O’Neill said.

“We learned a lot and we will use this for our future international and domestic season.”

“Rugby today is looked at differently than what is was two months ago. Many in the stands were rugby tragics, many were casual spectators, many were first timers. I expect the casuals to come back more regularly.”

The final word on the legacy of the finest Rugby World Cup ever also goes to the ARU chief.

“The end of the RWC is not the end it is the beginning. The history is a prologue.
Coming into 2004 rugby is a lot stronger in Australia and internationally,” O’Neill declared.


 

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