Should CFL/CIS/TSN Partner on a Rugby WC Bid?


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???

Canada doesn't have much of a presence in global rugby as you stated.
I think it would be feasible for Canada to host such competition, however, since they only happen 1 every 4 years the odds of it happening are pretty slim. .

I'd liken the rugby world cup to the womens soccer world cup that Canada will be hosting in 2015. Novelty events that Canada will do a bang up job in hosting, but likely wont leave much of a legacy in terms of the popularity of the sport.

I think you're on to something, dmont. The same thing has been going through my mind while following this World Cup. I know Canada hosted the women's Rugby World Cup in 2006, but I believe it was held only in Edmonton and is clearly not nearly the size of the men's tournament. But the precedent has been set that Canada is indeed on the International Rugby Board's radar to some extent.

I think one of the big issues keeping the WC out of Canada is simply that we do not have our own domestic professional league. If I remember correctly, going back to the 94 FIFA World Cup, FIFA awarded the USA the WC based on a requirement that they must start their own soccer league....which as we all now know as the MLS. I wonder if the IRB has the same policy?

I'll just say that this World Cup has already made a Rugby fan out of's just a question of what to watch after the tournament is over...


Just cruised around Wikipedia:

and it's a good news/bad news type of situation.

Bad news: The 2011 WC is apparently costing New Zealand $310M... which is way more than I ever imagined. Where is all that money going? Are they building a whole bunch of stadiums?

Good news: The International Rugby Board has interest in placing world cups outside of traditional Rugby hotbeds, and has recently focussed on Canada as a place to grow the sport.

Bad news: Both the 2015 and 2019 World Cups have been awarded to England and Japan respectively. The earliest that the CFL could pursue my grand plan is for 2023.

Good news: We have lots of time to debate a bid on this forum.

Lots of roadblocks, but I think it's still a good idea. If Canada's sporting infrastructure is better than New Zealand's, and IRB really wants to put a WC in North America, then maybe we could win the bid for less than $310M. Of course, by 2023, the CFL stadium problems should all be solved, one way or the other.

Final verdict: Keep it on the backburner, Cohon, but don't sit down and relax until 2023.

Considering that the CFL used to be esentially rugby... I dont see why each CFL team could not have their own pro team...
The salary stucture would have to parell the AFL.. but I see no reason why each team couldnt average 5000 fans

If Japan gets one, than its likely they would at least consider Canada, btw wasn't South Africa not very good when they hosted in 95, at least that's what the movie "invictus (sp?) suggested

Especially in comparing our populations, Canada has a stronger rugby tradition than do we in the US.

It will be interesting after this World Cup as far as changes in the Laws of the Game especially to eliminate further the stoppages. A rugby match full of penalties is usually about as bad as a sloppy gridiron game of the same.

Rugby union, as opposed to rugby league as some of you might enjoy but I find deathly boring with its equivalent of downs as we see in gridiron, was not made professional until 1995 though "shamateurism" prevailed before that.

The challenge not just for me with rugby is that it is so fun to play, more than soccer or football, but usually quite boring to watch especially with so many stoppages.

The question for expansion in Canadian interest would be for scheduling so as to not conflict with the NHL and CFL as much.

Maybe with the weather in much of Canada they could start play in May and finish the regular season in August if they are going to start a professional league.

In the meantime there is nothing to stop the growth of soccer in Canada via the MLS though that growth is largely regional just like in the US.

A Canada/US combined bid has been discussed for several years. The Rugby World Cup has in the past staged the tournament in more than one country and combined bids are allowed.

One large problem facing a Canada bid is the lack of natural grass stadiums. The Womens RWC was staged when Commonwealth still had grass. The turf used in CFL stadiums is better that previous ones but I don't think they would work or be considered for rugby.

Yet another reason why I always say that field turf is for suckers.

I just read a couple days ago that the International Rugby Board approved certain synthetic surfaces, although I'm sure they'd prefer natural.

It's not so much that the game could not be played on field turf as much as I doubt the stadiums would allow rugby to be played on the surface. The scrums would destroy the turf.

Rugby is played on the new generation synthetic surfaces by universities across the Canada.

I doubt a major senior level international competition would allow games to be played on anything other than grass. Temporary natural surfaces have been used in stadiums in Canada when needed for major sporting events featuring clubs and sports requiring natural surfaces. Soccer friendlies featuring big clubs in Europe have used sod installations in the Rogers Centre. The same was true for BMO Field prior to that stadium's permanent natural surface.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Ivor Wynne Stadium 2 begin with a natural surface for the Pan American soccer tournament before going over to turf for its legacy use with the Tiger-Cats and NASL club.

Most of the OP's points are a little far fetched. A partnership would do little if anything for the CFL or CIS. TSN has the current WC and is mainly carrying it on TSN2, that alone should tell you all you need to know.

Canada is ranked top 15 in the world and did put up a good fight against France last weekend, but as long as our best players have to leave the country to compete at the pro level we'll never get much higher. It would be nice to have here and could sell reasonably well in Toronto or Montreal but it's impact would be minute and not long lasting.

Some clarificiation on the topic of allowed playing surfaces in rugby union appears in order.

Note the following via the International Rugby Board (IRB), the governing body for the game of rugby union since 1886.

Some accurate points have been made about the preference, though it is NO LONGER a law of the game and thus a requirement, for natural grass for top international matches.

Law 1 Part 1 states as follows from the IRB:

(a) Requirement. The surface must be safe to play on at all times.
(b) Type of surface. The surface should be grass but may also be sand, clay, snow or artificial grass. The game may be played on snow, provided the snow and underlying surface are safe to play on. It shall not be a permanently hard surface such as concrete or asphalt. In the case of artificial grass surfaces, they must conform to IRB Regulation 22.

Which brings us to Regulation 22:

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I don't know which types of artificial turf have been approved for the IRB's standards, but the requirements are quite stringent all the same and appear far more demanding on the manufacturers than are the NFL or CFL.

Provided the underlying surface is not frozen turf or ice, up there you can play just fine on snow as well.

Down here we could play even on a beach, but the game is widely unpopular.

The CFL/CIS should use each and every opportunity to get involved with major international events as that seems to be one of the only, almost sure-fire ways to get major $$$ contribution for infrastructure from the Federal government.

The CFL has already gotten involved with rugby, although in a different capacity.

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I think it is a great idea. I would attend games in a CFL stadium for sure. I would likely become a season ticket holder IF there was a local team.

I can't stand rugby sevens compared to the full sides of 15 in rugby union (as in Canadian football really 'ol' skool'), and it will be troubling that more folks than ever will notice it at the Olympics in 2016.

On the other hand it did not help that the Rugby World Cup now is in a time zone 14 hours ahead of most of the North American East Coast though you have replays on TSN up there.

We'll see about rule changes to cut down on so many stoppages after the World Cup too.

This is why I love rugby (and football).

If the CFL wanted to be involved with rugby, they should start by paying the CRU for the trophy that is rightfully theirs.

"In 1909, the Grey Cup was donated by the then Governor General of Canada, the Earl Grey, to recognize the top amateur rugby football team in Canada."