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Tigers shocked at RWC snub

Mon, 08 Oct 2012 11:03
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Leicester Tigers were left surprised and disappointed by the decision not to include Welford Road among potential venues for the World Cup in England in 2015.

The RFU released a long list of 17 possible venues for the world showpiece on Monday, with Welford Road one of the most glaring omissions.

Leicester Chief Executive Peter Tom said: "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.

"When the International Rugby Board awarded the Rugby World Cup to the country that gave this sport to the world we saw this as an opportunity to celebrate the international game and also the professional club game here. Leicester Tigers wanted to be part of that.

"Welford Road has hosted many, many major occasions over the years, including visits from South Africa, Australia and Argentina national teams in recent seasons. It is home to the best-supported and most successful club in the history of the professional game in this country and, as such, we believe is worthy of Rugby World Cup status," he added.

According to the RFU confirmation comes after approval from the Rugby World Cup Limited (RWCL) Board and follows an extensive and thorough evaluation process, undertaken by ER 2015 in collaboration with tournament owners RWCL, host broadcaster ITV, and commercial stakeholders.

The selection procedure for the long 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 upwards of 400,000 international fans visiting England from over 100 countries.

However, Tom was left stunned that a club such as the Tigers and a traditional rugby venue like Welford Road could be overlooked in this manner.

"Leicester Tigers has always been a forward-thinking and progressive club, and has played an important role in the development and promotion of the game in this country.

"Who can forget that both head coach and captain of England's World Cup-winning team in 2003, and several other members of the squad and backroom staff, spent major parts of their own careers in Leicester colours?

"The current England squad also contains a sizeable number of Leicester players, many of whom have been introduced to the sport as fans at Welford Road and have come through the club’s Academy structure to first-team and then international honours.

"Welford Road is the largest designated club rugby stadium in England, an iconic home of the sport in this country and home to the most successful club in the history of a thriving, competitive and successful league structure yet it will not be at the table when it comes to hosting a global rugby event in this country.

"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," he said.

In order to undertake the next stage in the venue selection process, ER 2015 will continue to hold positive discussions with the venues in collaboration with their respective city councils, regional authorities and other stakeholders, including the Premier League and Football League.

The Pool Allocation Draw for Rugby World Cup 2015 is taking place in London on December 3, after which ER 2015 and RWCL will be in a position to work through the fixture schedule with all stakeholders to select a final list of up to 12 venues, which will be concluded by spring next year.

Rugby World Cup 2015 will involve 48 matches and will take place over a six week period from September 18 to October 31 2015.

The long list of venues selected by ER 2015 and approved by the RWCL Board is as follows:

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
Stadium of Light, Sunderland

Andy Cosslett, England Rugby 2015 Chairman, commented:"The selection of the long list of potential venues represents an exciting milestone for Rugby World Cup 2015, when fans up and down the country can begin to get excited about the prospect of one of sport's greatest events coming to their local city or town."

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