Belfast Telegraph

Friday 28 November 2014

England may hit the road for World Cup

England may play one of their 2015 World Cup matches away from Twickenham
England may play one of their 2015 World Cup matches away from Twickenham

England could play one of the matches in the 2015 Rugby World Cup away from Twickenham, organisers confirmed on Monday night.

Today marks three years to go until the start of the tournament, which England won the right to host back in 2009. The organising committee for the competition, England Rugby 2015 (ER 2015), are determined to take the event across the country and have set their sights on taking the host nation up to a big stadium in the north for one of their warm-up games, or possibly even a group match.

"Those are options that are under consideration and are being discussed with the RFU," ER 2015 chairman Andy Cosslett told a press conference. "There is a tremendous appetite for making sure this World Cup gets to as many corners of the country as we can take it."

He added: "Taking it out of the traditional rugby strongholds, where we are fighting the battle against Premier League football teams, is a priority.

"The RFU are very supportive of that. We haven't come to a final conclusion yet, but I think you will find there are a fair few northerners (at the RFU) like (England head coach) Stuart Lancaster and (chief executive) Ian Ritchie so I am sure that we can do the right thing."

England have played two internationals at Old Trafford before - in 2009 against Argentina and 12 years earlier when they took on New Zealand in Sir Clive Woodward's second game in charge.

Next month a 20-strong long list of potential stadia will be whittled down to between 10 and 12 for the tournament. Concerns have been raised that too much emphasis is being placed on hitting a £100million profit target by taking the matches to bigger-capacity football stadia like Old Trafford, Elland Road and Villa Park.

Only two rugby club grounds, Leicester's Welford Road and Gloucester's Kingsholm Stadium, were included in the original bid for the competition due to the low capacity of other top-flight rugby stadia.

ER 2015 chief operating officer Ross Young tried to play down fears the traditional heartlands of rugby were being overlooked, but conceded that any stadium used in the competition must be able to help deliver the body's overall target of raising £100million.

He said: "There is always a desire to include at least one rugby club, but it all has got to fit properly. You have to put the right games in the right venues."

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