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Olympic Stadium, Wembley could host World Cup matches

Publish Date: 08 Oct 2012, 05:40 PM
Last Updated: 08 Oct 2012, 05:40 PM
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Olympic Stadium could host WC matches
Olympic Stadium could host WC matches

London: The London Olympic Stadium and English soccer's Wembley home were named on Monday as potential venues to host matches during the 2015 rugby union World Cup as tournament organisers opted for capacity over rugby heritage.

Twickenham, home to English rugby, and the Millennium Stadium in the Welsh capital Cardiff also featured on the 17-strong list of grounds released by England Rugby 2015.

However, purists were disappointed that Gloucester's Kingsholm stadium in western England was the only English club rugby ground selected in a list also including Manchester United's Old Trafford soccer stadium.

Leicester Tigers' Welford Road rugby ground missed out, although the city's soccer stadium made the list, drawing an angry response from the Tigers.

"That the organisers of RWC2015 do not think this an appropriate venue for its fixtures is disappointing and confusing both for the professional club game in this country and for its supporters," club chairman Peter Tom said in a statement.

The pitch at Welford Road was not big enough to meet World Cup specifications once television camera positions were factored in, England Rugby 2015 Chief Operating Officer Ross Young told reporters.

Young defended the choice of venues, saying they offered a good spread geographically and sufficient capacity.

"We're talking about a world event and we're talking about giving as many people as possible access to games," Young said.

"I don't think it's an indictment at all on the club game in this country," he added, noting that rugby clubs like Saracens had taken matches to Wembley to accommodate bigger crowds.

Organisers have set an ambitious target of selling 2.9 million tickets for the 48 World Cup matches in September and October 2015 as they try to generate 100 million pounds ($162 million) in profits.

The tournament and the inclusion of rugby sevens in the 2016 Olympics are seen as a golden opportunity to develop the sport further commercially.

Young noted that France had used a number of soccer stadiums when it hosted the 2007 World Cup. The 12 venues to be used in 2015 will be selected from the list next year.

Young said it should be possible to fit the World Cup schedule around domestic soccer's calendar, even though soccer fixtures are finalised only in June of each year.

Potential venues:

Villa Park, Birmingham
Brighton Community Stadium, Brighton
Ashton Gate, Bristol
Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Coventry Stadium, Coventry
Pride Park, Derby
Kingsholm, Gloucester
Elland Road, Leeds
Leicester City Stadium, Leicester
Olympic Stadium, London
Twickenham Stadium, London  
Wembley Stadium, London
Old Trafford, Manchester
Stadiummk, Milton Keynes
St James' Park, Newcastle
St Mary's Stadium, Southampton

(Agencies)

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