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November 17, 2002 - 11:02am
Story by: AAP

The International Rugby Board today sought to clear up the confusion surrounding the bidding process for the 2007 Rugby World Cup after England and France were invited to re-submit their plans.

The IRB said one bid from each country should comply fully with tender document terms, while they are also allowing England and France - the only countries in the running - to present a second option, proposing alternative structures.

In a revised statement from its Dublin headquarters, the IRB said: "England`s original proposal contained three plans for hosting the tournament with a traditional, new and hybrid format all on offer.

"The French bid, while complying with the tender document in all other respects, fell outside one of the `windows` in which the IRB wanted to stage an event.

"As a result, the board, in its wish to encourage innovation and in the interests of fairness, has instructed both unions to resubmit their bids, one which should fully comply with the tender document terms and one which can propose alternative structures or timeframes."

An IRB spokeswoman said it wanted the tournament in October to November or June to July while the France bid was for a tournament in September to October.

And she said the England bid had failed on two counts, with one of its schemes reducing the tournament from 20 to 16 nations and another altering the structure of the qualifying tournament.

However, the IRB statement confirmed that England`s `traditional option` bid complied with all the governing body`s tender proposals.

But England`s favoured scheme remains a "two-tier" tournament with 16 nations in the main World Cup and a 32-team inaugural World Nations Cup for emerging countries running alongside it.

And on Friday Graeme Cattermole, chairman of England`s Rugby Football Union (RFU) management board, said the IRB`s revised statement meant their first choice plan was still a live contender.

"I am pleased that within their statement the IRB welcomes innovation` and this provides us with a great deal of encouragement in pursuit of our preferred option` to host a 16-team Rugby World Cup and a 32-team Rugby World Nations Cup," said Cattermole.

"We have already done a considerable amount of work on our Preferred Option` and following our international lobbying we have received some very constructive feedback, which will be incorporated into our plans."

Both England and France have until January 15, 2003 to re-submit their bids with a final decision expected three months later.

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