England's Rugby Football Union Declines Welsh Offer To Host World Cup Match
Wales' "ambitious but unlikely hopes" of persuading England to play its World Cup pool game at the Millennium Stadium appeared to have been "comprehensively dashed Tuesday after the Rugby Football Union insisted that the showpiece should be staged at Twickenham," according to Mark Souster of the LONDON TIMES. After Monday's draw, Welsh Rugby Union CEO Roger Lewis had "suggested that the match could be played in Cardiff." However, that possibility has "effectively been ended, although the meeting of the arch rivals could now form the opening fixture of the tournament, ensuring the event kicked off with a bang." RFU CEO Ian Ritchie said, "We appreciate Roger Lewis’ offer, but we’d like the England-Wales game staged here. Cardiff is a lovely place to play rugby, but we have a nice stadium of our own" (LONDON TIMES, 12/4). In London, Chris Jones reported England "will want a major input into the opening game on Sept. 18 as there are varying options open to the hosts." It "could push for an easy start against the winner of the play-off system or opt to begin with the dangerous Fiji or even Wales or Australia." The "final decision about which stadium will host pool matches will be announced in March" with England Rugby World Cup 2015 CEO Debbie Jevans "admitting she will be receiving messages from various competing nations asking for particular scenarios" (INDEPENDENT, 12/4).
WEMBLEY AS A COMPROMISE: The LONDON TIMES' Ashling O'Connor reported London's Wembley Stadium "presents a canny compromise." Technically it is a neutral venue, but as the home of English football would provide the sort of "power of the nation" atmosphere that Chris Robshaw, the England captain, said "helped his team to defeat the All Blacks." With 90,000 seats and world-class hospitality facilities, "it also offers the maximum possible commercial return for a sell-out grudge match." The Int'l Rugby Board "is acutely aware that World Cup organisers have a lot of tickets to shift: 2.9 million need to be sold to hit ambitious financial targets." Sources said that officials of the world governing body -- who have ultimate approval on the recommendations of England Rugby 2015, a subsidiary of the RFU -- "would therefore look favourably on as many matches being played there as possible." The RFU "has no sway in the choice of venues" (LONDON TIMES, 12/4).