The decision, made at the annual meeting of the IRB Council in Dublin on Tuesday, is the result of an exhaustive and collaborative review process which culminated in the recommendation of Friday, September 18, 2015 by Tier 1 Chairmen and Chief Executives last week as the most suitable start date within the September-October Rugby World Cup window.
This will ensure:
- A tournament that will continue to showcase and fund the global game
- Delivery of a financially strong and competitive tournament
- Minimal collective financial impact on participating Unions and other major international rugby competitions
- Scheduling of 2015 RWC matches in iconic venues
A number of dates were considered, with each proposal accompanied by detailed analysis and research.
September 18 was selected to maximise collective benefits for all Unions while ensuring the best possible sporting and financial platform for an exceptional Rugby World Cup in England that will continue to drive forward the development of the global game.
RWCL Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: "Throughout this collaborative process we have set out to achieve a Rugby World Cup start date that is good for participating Unions, good for our other major international rugby events and ultimately good for the development of the global game.
"September 18 achieves just that and coupled with a new and robust collaborative funding model, we have collectively moved to address the challenges that face our Unions during a Rugby World Cup year."
ER 2015 Chief Executive Paul Vaughan welcomed the announcement, which will now trigger the process of locking down match venues and preliminary schedule development.
"ER 2015 welcomes confirmation of the start date for the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England. Planning and preparation is on track and this milestone announcement further focuses our operational work as we look to deliver the best ever Rugby World Cup," he said.
"For fans, players and all stakeholders knowing that the 2015 Rugby World Cup will kick off on September 18 and the final will be played on Saturday, October 31 at England's iconic Twickenham Stadium brings the tournament to life and really builds excitement.
"Our priority now is to confirm the tournament venues and, as we work through it, our aim is to showcase the game around the country, inspiring the largest possible audience as we prepare to welcome the global rugby family and host one of the world’s largest sporting events."
The new financial model underpins the selection of the date and will see the IRB invest an additional £50 million in the global game from 2012 to 2015. This is in addition to the £150 million that the IRB is investing in rugby between 2009 and 2012.
In addition a working group comprising Union and IRB representatives has been established to consider potential changes to the 2015 Rugby World Cup commercial rules proposed by the IRB to deliver overall optimal value to Unions and the IRB without impacting the ongoing growth of the tournament commercial programme.
Recommendations will be put forward to the Rugby World Cup Limited Board.
Lapasset added: "I am delighted that we have an unified agreement on a way forward that will promote a business partnership with our Unions over the next four years to invest in the future of rugby and deliver a funding model that is good for the game as a whole and will promote the long-term strength of rugby as the sport continues to grow on all fronts."
IRB Acting Chief Executive Robert Brophy said: "The agreed model directly addresses the challenges faced by our Tier 1 Unions by delivering an equitable business solution that promotes stability, as well as proactively addressing the issue of reduced revenues for participating Unions during a Rugby World Cup year.
"This new financial model will also see investment increase across Tier 2 and 3 Unions, IRB regions, Sevens and strategic development tournaments."