World Cup organisers battling against the odds for success

World Cup organisers are remaining bold and brave despite the uncertainty caused by the pandemic.

With restrictions gradually easing, the decision to stand firm and not change the planned schedules for the men’s, women’s and wheelchair tournaments looks like being rewarded.

SCHEDULE: List of Rugby League World Cup 2021 fixtures – date-by-date by tournament

In spite of the global situation, the first ever ticket ballot in rugby league was held and according to organisers, 70% of those who purchased in the ballot were not classed as rugby league fans.

They have also provided a 100% refund guarantee for ticket purchasers should the event not go ahead, or be postponed, which has helped assure fans.

World Cup chief Jon Dutton said: “I started the project way back in 2015 where we began with a clear vision – staging three tournaments together for the first time ever.

“We are a tournament with a purpose and no-one could have predicted that five years into our journey that we would have to contend with the pandemic.

“We’ve had to take an agile approach in dealing with uncertainty and I can say that hand on heart it is the toughest thing in my career that I have had to deal with.

“We all want certainty, and it’s something that no-one can provide right now.”

The World Cup’s work with its Official Data and Insight Supplier, Goodform, has seen it shortlisted for a “Data & Business Impact Award” at the 2021 Sport Industry Awards.

They have been heavily reliant on data throughout to help steer their messaging.

Dutton added: “Reflecting on the ballots again, we over-indexed in London. Given that 85% of the tournament is based in the North of England, this was a pleasant surprise.

“What data analysis allowed us to do in the early days is see the trend of ticket purchasers in London and put more marketing spend behind it, with London coming out as a top buying postcode for the entire ballot.”

The men’s tournament will kick off at St James’ Park in Newcastle on October 23, with 21 different venues and 21 different nations participating across the three different tournaments.

Dutton said: “There is nothing like international sport – nation going against nation. With the visibility that we have on BBC, with all the 61 games broadcast live, the fantastic venues that we have and aspirations to reach the new audience – we hopefully have a powerful combination.

“What’s more, there are such exciting nations competing. Whether you like or know about Rugby League, we think that we can excite people beyond the sport itself.

“Some activities are not rugby league specific, but we have an amazing opportunity, that other events also have, to do something more than just what happens on the field of play.

“We thin that social impact is so critically important going forward and we want to be flag bearers.”

To read the full Q&A with Jon Dutton, click here.

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