Sports

World Rugby, for everyone

After more than a century governing the sport, the International Rugby Board (IRB) is changing its name to World Rugby on Nov 19.

The impetus for the name change is the mission to globalise the sport, said IRB CEO Brett Gosper.

Gosper, who is in town for the IRB's two-day annual meeting which ends tonight, said that World Rugby connects everyone around the globe.

The governing body was initially founded in 1886 as the International Rugby Football Board by the Ireland, Scotland and Wales rugby unions before England joined in 1890. It changed its name to the IRB in 1998.

"The name change for us is to be better understood," he told The New Paper, on the sidelines of a press conference at the National Stadium yesterday.

GOAL

"Our goal now is to help develop the game in Asia, and we are working on having a global rugby calendar that will include tournaments and matches in this region.

"This can't take off before the 2019 World Cup in Japan because there are too many contractual obligations.

"But a high priority is to enhance the accessibility and visibility of rugby so that when the World Cup comes to Japan, people in this region will know the sport well."

By expanding its Get Into Rugby mass participation programme across Asia, the IRB aims to have one million new players across the continent by 2019 - the same year Japan will become the first Asian country to host the sport's biggest and most coveted event, the World Cup.

The tournament is held once every four years and England will host the 2015 World Cup.

Gosper added that Singapore can leverage on the Japan World Cup by being part of the build-up to the tournament.

"It is possible that Singapore host a few warm-up matches for the World Cup," he said.

"That's up to the teams, of course, but I would say that this is a terrific destination for such games."