- Apr 7, 2013
Mustering a crowd: The World Cup has been well supported. Photo: Getty Images
The World Cup final is now expected to be a 75,000 sellout and the semi-final double header at Wembley is tipped to attract 70,000. Even allowing for rugby league's voracious appetite for self-destruction, it is already pretty much too late for the tournament to be a failure. A profit of around $5 million is forecast.
"The final is pretty much assured of being sold out," tournament director Nigel Wood said: "We've just released the last few seats. As for Wembley, I don't want to predict a figure but we've moved onto the upper tiers."
The 2008 World Cup in Australia was estimated as making a $3 million profit. The money was put towards junior development, with countries applying for grants, and the rather expensive exercise of staging the qualifiers for this tournament.
Making cities apply to host games - now commonplace in Australia - was applied in British rugby league for the first time, with 70 councils and local authorities tendering. The councils did most of the work promoting and marketing the games.
But there is a perception that the money making power of national teams full of NRL and Super League players is only beginning to be exploited. The Rugby League International Federation still has no permanent office or full-time employees. When it starts competing for sponsors and television money with domestic leagues, there is bound to be friction. But the success of the current tournament indicates it would be a fight worth having.
In the meantime, what's wrong with having three years of World Cup qualifiers played on the NRL's representative weekend?