Reflecting on the success of Rugby World Cup 2015 in Milton Keynes

Rugby World Cup 2015 in Milton Keynes has been a huge success with tens of thousands of visitors to the city, the council have proclaimed.

stadium:mk’s attendance record was broken three times, with over 30,000 at the final match, Fiji v Uruguay.

The Japan v Samoa match broke an international record with 25m people in Japan tuning in to watch the Brave Blossoms defeat their south sea counterparts, beating previous best for a RWC match of 20.7m in on French domestic TV in 2007.

We had the honour of HRH Prince Harry and Fijian president Epeli Nailatikau coming to Milton Keynes among the near 88,000 spectators to the stadium.

Two teams, Samoa and Fiji, used Milton Keynes’ own facilities as team bases for their Rugby World Cup preparations during the tournament. Woughton on the Green was used for on field training, with Bletchley Leisure Centre for gym and pool work away from the pitch.

The official Rugby World Cup Fanzone, offering a wide variety of activities, saw over 36,000 people through the gates of Campbell Park throughout the 11 days from 1-10 October.

More than 12,000 people were wowed over two nights by the world class spectacular Clash of Drums, produced by The Stables and IF: Milton Keynes International Festival, with a drumming and pyrotechnic extravaganza through the streets of Milton Keynes, culminating with an explosive finale on stage at The Point.

Of the hundreds of volunteers, either as part of the Pack or working at the Fanzone, the Mayor of Milton Keynes, Cllr Keith McLean working on all three match days in spectator services.

Helping direct people around the city and get them in the mood to watch rugby.

Transport planning went well, with the shuttle buses proving a big hit. Over 50,000 trips were taken on shuttle buses, with a high of just under 10,000 each way for the final match.

There has inevitably been some inconvenience at times for local people but given the many thousands of additional journeys in the city the balance was right.

Final costs and income from ticketed events are being totted up. The Council’s net contribution to transport and the full programme of events is estimated at this stage to be around £700,000.

Milton Keynes is looking to benefit economically to the tune of £50m. Hannah O’Neill Deputy Leader, Milton Keynes Council said: “Milton Keynes Council and partners from MK Dons, The Parks Trust, The Stables, International Festival and Thames Valley Police have really shown what Milton Keynes can offer on the world stage.

“Hosting three Rugby World Cup pool matches is huge and has firmly put Milton Keynes on the map.

“There have been so many positive comments from residents and visitors.

“From the local volunteers in the Pack and those helping in the Fanzone to all the planning that went on behind the scenes, Milton Keynes can be really proud.

“Now it’s time to enjoy the rest of the tournament and continue the legacy giving people the opportunities to get into or get back into sport.” John Cove, Chief Executive of MK Dons SET said: “Rugby World Cup 2015 in Milton Keynes has been an overwhelming success. We always knew the city would deliver on the world stage, but even this surpassed our hopes and expectations.

“stadiummk has played its part in sporting history, with more eyes on it than we could ever have anticipated, and the tournament as a whole has really captured the imagination of rugby and non-rugby fans. Milton Keynes now has a responsibility to ensure this was not just a one-off event, and we need to focus on the legacy of Rugby World Cup by inspiring a new generation to pick up a ball to play sport and develop social skills.

“Rugby World Cup 2015 was three years in the planning and it highlighted what our city can achieve when key partnerships and agencies work together for the good of Milton Keynes.

“This should galvanise us all – irrespective of our agencies or organisations - to make the important strides that will earn us the recognition of an international sporting city.”

David Foster, Chief Executive of The Parks Trust Said: “We are thrilled to have welcomed more than 36,000 people to the Fanzone and Festival of Rugby in Campbell Park.

“It was great to see so many people in the park and watch Rugby fans and their families enjoying

the activities.

“We have had lots of support from local people who have volunteered to help during the event and support from local businesses and we can’t thank those involved enough.

“A big thank you also goes to all our sponsors and the businesses that have helped clean the site and local artists who have provided a huge programme of entertainment.”

Steven Gordon-Wilson, Chief Executive of Destination Milton Keynes said: “As an organisation with a remit to promote Milton Keynes as a great place to visit, we cannot sing louder about the work undertaken around the Rugby World Cup. What a great example of the city showcasing itself in its brightest light – this has put MK on the international stage and we think it’s going to stay there for a long time.”