England Rugby 2015, the tournament organizer for Rugby World Cup 2015, announced the list of 17 potential match venues for consideration to host the 48 Rugby World Cup 2015 matches. The venues selected comprise some of sport’s most iconic stadia with the best facilities from 15 different cities across England and Wales.The selection procedure for the list of venues took into account a geographical spread across the country, sporting and facilities criteria, levels of support from candidate host cities and capacity requirements for the successful delivery of a Rugby World Cup that will see approximately 2.9 million tickets being made available to fans, and upward of 400,000 int'l fans visiting England from more than 100 countries. ER 2015 will continue to hold discussions with the venues in collaboration with their respective city councils, regional authorities and other stakeholders, including the Premier League and Football League. Rugby World Cup 2015 will involve 48 matches to take place over a six week period from Sept. 18 - Oct. 31, 2015 (ER 2015).
Villa Park, Birmingham
Brighton Community Stadium, Brighton
Ashton Gate, Bristol
Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Coventry Stadium, Coventry
Pride Park, Derby
Elland Road, Leeds
Leiceseter City Stadium, Leicester
Olympic Stadium, London
Twickenham Stadium, London
Wembley Stadium, London
Old Trafford, Manchester
Stadium MK, Milton Keynes
St. James' Park, Newcastle
St. Mary's Stadium, Southampton
Stadium of Light, Sunderland
FEELING LEFT OUT: REUTERS' Keith Weir wrote "purists were disappointed" that Gloucester's Kingsholm in western England was the only English club rugby ground selected. The plans to use football stadiums "could complicate scheduling and advance ticket sales" because fixture for league football matches are finalized annually in June. ER 2015 COO Ross Young defended the choice of venues, saying that they offered a "good spread geographically and sufficient capacity." Young said, "We're talking about a world event, and we're talking about giving as many people as possible access to games" (REUTERS, 10/8). In London, Joe Ridge wrote Leicester Tigers "have reacted furiously" to their Welford Road stadium being left off the list. Tigers Chair Peter Tom "expressed his shock and disappointment at the decision" on the club's official website. Tom: "We are hugely disappointed to learn that Welford Road will not play a part in England's hosting of the Rugby World Cup in 2015." In contrast to Leicester, Northampton has "given their full backing" to the selection of Milton Keynes as a potential host city. The Saints have used Stadium MK "for some of their big Heineken Cup matches." Northampton CEO Allan Robson said, "The Rugby World Cup is a prestigious global sporting event, and it is right that England Rugby 2015 demand the highest standard of its stadiums. Stadium MK certainly fits into that category, as we know from our own experiences playing there in the Heineken Cup and setting the venue's attendance record." The venue list will be reduced to 12 next spring, thus resulting in a "realistic chance that no Premiership grounds will host World Cup games" (DAILY MAIL, 10/8). Young said, "The pitch at Welford Road was not big enough to meet World Cup specifications once television camera positions were factored in" (REUTERS, 10/8). The PA noted Leicester is still represented by the King Power Stadium, which has a capacity of more than 32,000. The tournament organizers believe it has "more suitable off-field facilities than Welford Road" (PA, 10/8).
England's world-class national football center will officially open at St. George's Park on Tuesday, with its Chair David Sheepshanks insisting that "it can even achieve the impossible and make English teams good at taking penalties," according to the PA. The £105M ($168.3M) complex that ranks "with the best anywhere in the world," will be opened by Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton. It will be the base for all 24 England teams, from the senior men's side to the junior girls' team, but it will also be "a centre of excellence for training coaches and for sports medicine, sports science and, perhaps not least, psychology." Inside the sports medicine and training center is a gym "stocked with the most technically-advanced equipment that money can buy." However, the FA did not have to buy the equipment "thanks to a sponsorship deal" with the manufacturers Technogym. The gym overlooks the senior training pitch, laid out to the exact dimensions of the pitch at Wembley Stadium and with exactly the same mix of grass and Desso artificial fibers. It is one of 11 outside pitches at the center, five of which are floodlit and with undersoil heating (PA, 10/8).
OFFICIAL LAUNCH: Prince William, who is the honorary president of the FA, will officially launch the new national facility after touring the site and meeting senior figures from the FA, local community figureheads and young grassroots players.The royal pair will also spend time with England Manager Roy Hodgson and his squad as they train at St. George's Park for the first time ahead of their 2014 World Cup qualification game against San Marino on Friday (FA).
OPEN DOOR POLICY: In London, Jamie Jackson was among several media members invited to St. George's Park Monday for a test of the "elite medical facilities." Jackson wrote that the medical complex is "not only impressive, but is also being billed as accessible for all." Managing Dir Julie Harrington said, "One of the things we want to achieve as an organisation is to be more open. We took a strategic decision that there isn't a big gatehouse that says 'You can't come in, it's England's training camp.' It's really important this is considered an open site and people are welcomed in, so other sports people and the general public can use the facilities (GUARDIAN, 10/8).