Bear with me here.
I’ve been watching a little bit of the 2011 Rugby WC bid. In between bouts of confusion trying to figure out what was happening, I wondered whether or not the CFL, CIS, and TSN could all benefit from getting involved in hosting this tournament. I concluded: "Why yes... yes they could!"
1) What can the Rugby WC do for the CFL?
a) The federal government throws a fit whenever a CFL stadium project proposes federal funding, but the feds seem to have no problem providing money for amateur/international sporting tournaments. The facilities needed to host a Rugby WC would be similar to those needed to host a CFL team. They have similar field dimensions and capacities (judging by the facilities used right now in New Zealand). So, if cities/universities are looking for stadium upgrades that would have a professional anchor tenant, they might get behind a rugby WC bid and have the realistic expectation of federal help.
b) Since the options in Toronto aren’t super appealing (Rogers Centre or BMO Field), could be the ticket for the Argonauts to get their own stadium, possibly an expansion of the stadium York’s getting for the Pan Am games.
c) As any hardcore CFL or NFL fan knows, gridiron football has its roots in Rugby. The two sports share a lot of common ground, but they’re fans are polarized. I love football, while at the same time am completely ignorant about the rules of rugby, while the reverse might be true for lots of rugby fans. A few video pieces about CFL players and international rugby players explaining the finer differences of the two sports to each other would be entertaining, and might increase the CFL fanbase.
d) Several CFL teams manage their stadiums, and hosting Rugby WC games could represent revenue-generating opportunities. They have their pool of season’s ticket holders to draw from, and can package rugby tickets with CFL tickets. The All Blacks and Springboks would be huge draws, even for casual fans. They also have lots of practice hosting games.
2) What can the CFL do for Rugby?
a) Rugby isn’t an immensely popular sport in Canada, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t become one. It’s a rough sport, which appeals to hockey-and-football-loving Canadians, and Canada has a decent world-ranking in the sport. If a significant fraction of CFL fans were introduced to rugby by a CFL-Rugby Canada partnership, it would be great for the sport of rugby in Canada.
b) CFL owners would be private investors, always important for any international sports tournament.
c) CFL clubs manage stadiums and have all the infrastructure in place to sell tickets and put on a good show.
3) What can CIS do for the CFL/Rugby WC?
a) Non-profit/amateur status confers further legitimacy on any requests for public funds.
b) They have Varsity rugby teams that would play a role in developing talent for the tournament.
4) What can Rugby WC do for CIS?
a) Facility upgrades (as mentioned in 1a)
b) International exposure, free marketing to rugby fans in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, etc.
c) Build fan/corporate support for their own varsity rugby teams.
5) What can TSN do for Rugby WC?
a) National broadcaster, has shown an ability to take relatively low-key sports (CFL, World Junior Hockey) and promote them into big money-makers. Good for generating exposure and sponsorship.
b) If benefits accrue to the CFL, then another of their big TV properties becomes more valuable.
6) What can Rugby WC do for TSN?
a) Content, content, content! Another bullet in their competition with Sportsnet.
General comments: Likely wouldn’t be as costly as bidding of other tournaments. There’s too much competition for the FIFA World Cup, the stadiums would have too large a capacity and/or be too expensive, and the field dimensions aren’t as compatible with a CFL/CIS field. I don’t know how fierce competition would be for a Rugby WC bid, but given that New Zealand won it this year, and shouldn’t be in the running again for a while, Canada might have a legitimate shot at winning without breaking the bank.
So. Should Cohon be listening to ol’ dmont???