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Volume 6 No. 212

Events and Attractions

Rugby World Cup organizers said that London's Olympic Stadium "will host four pool matches and the third-place playoff in the 2015 rugby World Cup," while England "will briefly leave their Twickenham base" to play at Man City's Etihad Stadium, according to Mitch Phillips of REUTERS. The final list of venues revealed at a news conference at Twickenham also includes Wembley, for two games, and Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, though Wales' only two pool games there are against a playoff winner and the top Oceania team. The tournament "will consist of 48 matches" -- 40 group games played by four pools each of five countries, four quarterfinals, two semifinals, a third-place playoff and the final (REUTERS, 5/2).

SPREADING THE WEALTH: In London, Ben Rumsby reported almost half of the 48 matches were awarded to the southeast, "with 17 given to London venues and five more shared between Milton Keynes and Brighton." In contrast, the north "was handed just six games." But England 2015 CEO Debbie Jevans, who was in charge of compiling the match schedule, said, "We have taken the game to the whole country." The "embarrassing withdrawal of Old Trafford from the bidding process forced Jevans to lean more heavily on larger venues in the south" in order to meet an IRB revenue target of £80M ($124M). The Etihad Stadium "also stepped into the breach but only for one fixture, which Jevans denied had left 'a hole'" (TELEGRAPH, 5/2). In London, Josh Burrows reported Scotland "will play two matches at Newcastle's St. James' Park, including eye-catching fixtures against South Africa and Samoa, with New Zealand, the world champion, facing Tonga on Tyneside." Newcastle Falcons Rugby Dir Dean Richards said the city and the North East, renowened for its footballing passion, "couldn't ask for three better games" (LONDON TIMES, 5/2).

HOME COOKING? Also in London, Robert Kitson opined "the not-so-subtle art of making home advantage count has already started." How else "to interpret a carefully massaged tournament fixture schedule" which will see England play all but one of its games in the familiar surroundings of Twickenham while its rivals dash up and down the country like harassed sales reps? There are "other cunning little details, too, which suggest a fixture computer deliberately programmed to favour the local lads." England "will have a handy eight-day cushion to ready themselves for the crunch pool game against Wales, while their opponents have two days fewer" (GUARDIAN, 5/2).

LATE ADDITIONS: The BBC reported "Sandy Park and the Etihad Stadium were added to the list" after ManU's Old Trafford stadium "was withdrawn." Five other football stadiums "were also omitted -- Sunderland's Stadium of Light, St. Mary's in Southampton, Bristol City's Ashton Gate, Derby's Pride Park and the Ricoh Arena in Coventry" (BBC, 5/2). In London, Robin Scott-Elliot reported "only four rugby grounds have been included in the list of 13 stadiums." Gloucester's Kingsholm and Exeter's Sandy Park "are the only club grounds included with the organisers commitment to selling 2.9 million tickets," along with a guaranteed £80M return to the IRB, necessitating the selection of eight football grounds (INDEPENDENT, 5/2).

TICKET TIME: Also in London, Owen Gibson reported Rugby World Cup organizers "face having to raise ticket prices after complications surrounding the schedule led to a reduction of around 300,000 in the total available." They promised to honor minimum-price guarantees of £7 ($10) but "refused to rule out an increase in the average price as a result of the lower overall capacity." Jevans said that organizers would honor "he commitment to minimum prices of £7 that was made during the bidding process." When it launched its bid to host the competition in '09, the Rugby Football Union "promised minimum prices for the pool games," rising to £40 ($62) for the quarterfinals and £75 ($116) for the semifinals. It also pledged average ticket prices of £71 ($110), based on average attendances of 50,000 (GUARDIAN, 5/2).

Rugby World Cup 2015 Venues
Stadium City
Brighton Community Stadium
Brighton & Hove
Manchester City Stadium
Elland Road
Kingsholm Stadium
Gloucester 16,115
Leicester City Stadium
Millennium Stadium
Olympic Stadium
Sandy Park
Milton Keynes
St. James' Park
Newcastle upon Tyne
Villa Park
Wembley Stadium
Source: IRB

FAIR SCHEDULE: EUROSPORT reported organizers "came up with a schedule that gives the sport's lesser lights a fighting chance." It "had long been a running sore that the tier two nations have been forced to operate on minimal rest." Everyone involved in the game recognized "the unfair nature of the schedule," and the organizers "have finally produced a fairer programme." IRB CEO Brett Gosper said, "We just wanted to make sure there was no disparity in the rest-day balance between tier one and tier two nations" (EUROSPORT, 5/2).

Rugby World Cup 2015 fixtures.

The first puck of the 2013 Int'l Ice Hockey Federation World Championship will drop in Helsinki, Finland on Friday at 4:15pm local time. The tournament will end with the gold medal game at Stockholm's Ericsson Globe arena on May 19. The IIHF's 77th annual world championship will feature the world's top 16 national hockey teams. Besides the two host countries, defending champions Russia, Canada, the Czech Republic and the U.S. are the favorites to win the title (HJ Mai, SBD GLOBAL).

Some IIHF World Championship facts and figures:

  • 3,500 hours of broadcast time is expected globally from the '13 championship -- transmitted  by 70 TV partners with around 500 accredited broadcast journalists on site.
  • More than 110 countires and territories have secured media coverage -- the event will be seen on TV across the world from Andorra to Zimbabwe.
  • More than 750 million is the cumulative worldwide audience predicted to tune into IIHF programming.
  • 2,500 meters of advertising boards and backdrops will provide exposure for 14 official sponsors as well as official partners and national partners over the course of the tournament.
  • More than 30,000 gourmet meals are expected to be served by Infront Hospitality Management to sponsors and VIP guests during the tournament -- complemented by a buffet and live cooking (Infront).

The annual men’s and women’s national U21 field hockey tournaments, scheduled to be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from May 21-30, "have been postponed indefinitely" -- most likely because the Malaysian Hockey Confederation "can ill-afford to bear the organisational costs" (THE STAR, 5/2). ... A corporate league and a badminton carnival "will run alongside June 18-23's Li-Ning Singapore Open" at the Singapore Indoor Stadium (STRAITS TIMES, 5/2). ... La Liga club Atlético Madrid has communicated that it has already sold 18,375 tickets for the final of the Copa del Rey (Spanish Cup) that will be played against Real Madrid on May 17 at Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. There are 4,925 available remaining tickets that fans can acquire starting Thursday (LIBERTAD DIGITAL, 5/2). ... The football match between Espanyol and Barcelona and the rest of La Liga's 37th Matchday games will take place on May 26 since no Spanish team has qualified for the Champions League finals, the Spanish Football League (LFP) has announced (MUNDO DEPORTIVO, 5/2). ... Spanish national football team coach Vicente Del Bosque confirmed that his team will play against Haiti in a friendly on June 8 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami. The Spanish national team will also play against Ireland on June 11 in N.Y. as part of its preparations for the Confederations Cup, which will take place from June 15-30 in Brazil (EL MUNDO, 5/2).