November 8 - A total of 15 Official Travel Agents (OTA's) for the 2015 Rugby World Cup to be held in England have been announced by World Cup organisers after consultation with Rugby Travel and Hospitality (RTH).
The appointment of the OTA's follows a "comprehensive tender evaluation and selection process" by RTH, who were appointed specifically to manage the global fan travel and hospitality programmes.
This will ensure fans from around the world and in the UK are offered a wide choice of travel packages based on content and price, it is claimed.
Four agents from Australia have bee chosen - consisting of Flight Centre Australia, Gullivers Sport Travel, Qantas Holidays and Sportsnet Holidays - as well as Delfos Tours and Tower Travel from Argentina .
Making up the numbers are two regional firms in Great Atlantic Travel from North America and ATP Events from Europe.
Rugby World Cup OTA programme sales exceeded 180,000 for France 2007 and more than 100,000 for New Zealand 2011 and, with more than 400,000 international visitors anticipated for the 48-match tournament, demand for 2015 is expected to be unprecedented.
Rugby World Cup Limited managing director Brett Gosper, who is also the chief executive of the International Rugby Board (IRB), described the important contribution that the travel agents will make.
"The international travel and hospitality ticketing programme has been one of the major success stories for Rugby World Cup, proving a hit for sports fans from around the world with its unforgettable memories and exceptional experiences," he said.
"We are delighted to announce the appointment of 15 leading Official Travel Agents for Rugby World Cup 2015.
"This is a key tournament milestone and the announcement so far in advance of the tournament is another indication that we are on track to deliver an exceptional Rugby World Cup.
"Fans who book through OTAs will also be playing their part in the growth of world rugby, with the tournament's commercial programme providing the financial engine that enables the IRB to invest record sums in high performance programmes, tournament and development structures to increase participation and competitiveness within the world Game."
These sentiments were repeated by RTH chief executive Andrew Burton.
"All of the OTAs appointed are committed to providing the best possible service and tournament experience for rugby fans throughout the world who will travel to England in 2015," he said.
"With more than 400,000 supporters expected to travel to England for the tournament, fans will have the opportunity to choose from a variety of match ticket inclusive supporter tours, offering a wide range of ways to experience the tournament in 2015.
"Rugby World Cup 2015 will be the eighth tournament and is on course to write another memorable chapter in the RWC success story.
"With just under two years to go, operational planning is on track, the match schedule is confirmed and the commercial programme set to be finalised in record time."
December 2010: Rugby World Cup ticket sales approaching one million