£1m spent on World Cup has given Rugby a huge boost

Rugby ball sculpture outside the John Barford car park.
Rugby ball sculpture outside the John Barford car park.

Rugby’s spending spree on the recent World Cup with the fanzone and a host of other activities was well worth it, according to a new report.

The first official look at the impact of what the borough did to mark the Rugby World Cup, spending just over £1million, records a big impact on business and a lasting legacy for the town. A report to Monday’s borough council cabinet meeting claims:

n Town centre businesses reported typical increases of sales of ten to twenty per cent, with some reporting that sales had doubled.

n Hotels reported increased occupancy of ten to 20 per cent.

n An estimated £3 extra was spent in the local economy for every £1 invested.

Other figures on the reaction to the programme shows:

n More than 26,000 people attended world cup match screenings at the town’s fanzone.

n 10,000 people attended festival events.

n 2,500 children took part in the education programme.

n More than 100 volunteers gave nearly 4,000 hours to help support the programme.

In terms of a lasting legacy the report highlights how:

n Some 400 people attended open days at local rugby clubs following the tournament, with 131 junior and senior players signing up to play.

n The five giant rugby balls won a national award.

n Town centre improvements included a new permanent coach parking facility at Westway, new and reconditioned paving and benches, a free public wifi network and refurbishment of the Pathway of Fame.

Cllr Michael Stokes, leader of the council, said: “Rugby World Cup 2015 was a once-in-a-generation opportunity to mark the town’s heritage as the proud home and birthplace of the game.

“The impact report shows that we made the most of our opportunity in the global spotlight, but more importantly, also left a lasting legacy.

“With permanent improvements to the town centre, a new education programme, committed volunteers, and partners keen to explore new opportunities together, we can look back and be proud of our achievements.”

Rugby Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) spokesperson Pete McLaren said the organisation had put in a Freedom of Information request in early November about the impact of the spending, which had not been answered.

“We have not been sent any raw data, so it is impossible for us to comment on the accuracy of a report which claims that Rugby benefited considerably from the council’s promotion of the Rugby Football World Cup.

“Indeed, the evidence presented by Rugby Council directly contradicts the anecdotal evidence we gained from a number of restaurants, pubs and hotels last autumn suggesting any income directly generated was minimal.

“We are of course pleased that Rugby Council has finally broken its silence on this issue, and we would like to think our Freedom of Information request may have played a part in achieving that.”