Rugby gets ready for boom times
Irish rugby will benefit hugely from the World Cup, regardless of how Joe Schmidt's men fare, according to IRFU commercial director Padraig Power.
Power is confident that the staging of the competition so close to these shores will boost the sport's profile all over the country, with a resultant increase in both playing numbers and commercial appeal - although the Union will not make any money directly from the World Cup.
"The World Cup is going to give the game here a really good platform," says Power. "It's very visible, very high profile.
"People are inspired by heroic deeds and by success. I hope the young boys and girls of Ireland will see the likes of Johnny Sexton, Paul O'Connell, Peter O'Mahony and Tommy Bowe doing great things and will be inspired.
"The spill-over is going to be very significant. I hope more people will want to play the game, and more companies and brands want to be associated."
Michael Cullen, editor of marketing.ie, reckons that it is important for the team to perform. "A good World Cup would be a great morale boost for the whole country, and elevate the profile of rugby in Ireland here," he says.
"Companies want to be associated with success, and the Irish players already have a good reputation off the field. They are seen as role models."
The IRFU are not pinning all their financial hopes on World Cup glory and a resultant rush of companies splashing cash on rugby. The Union prefers to be associated with brands that want to be involved with rugby for the long term, rather than bandwagon-jumpers.
"Brands get involved in sponsorship for different reasons, and success probably isn't the main reason," explains Power. "Success is a fickle thing, and we have partnered up with brands where there's a fit, a like-minded vision. Success or failure, they are in it for the long haul.
"Of course, we want our sponsors to be able to use the leverage from being associated with the team, and get bang for their buck.
"Doing well at the World Cup would be great, but for us as an organisation, it's about more than that."