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Wales predict WC bonanza

Thu, 02 May 2013 13:03
Millennium-stadium-night-63 Millenniumstadium3 Millenniumstadium
This feast of action will also deliver a huge economic boost
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Welsh Rugby Union officials said the eight 2015 World Cup matches scheduled to take place at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium could generate a £100 million (US$156 million) boost for the Welsh economy - despite Wales playing their key pool ties against both England and Australia at Twickenham.

The 75,000-seater Millennium Stadium is the only venue outside of England chosen to stage matches at the next World Cup.

After December's draw - which saw England, Wales and Australia all in the same Pool A - immediately leading to it being dubbed the 'group of death', with only two teams from each group advancing to the quarterfinals - WRU chief executive Roger Lewis 'offered' to stage the England-Wales match at the Millennium.

"I think they [England] would embrace the opportunity to play in the finest rugby stadium in the world," Lewis said at the time.

However, not only did organisers dash those hopes Thursday, they announced the Wales-Australia match would also take place at Twickenham - something welcomed by Wallaby coach Robbie Deans, whose side will play England there as well.

"While we've got more immediate matters at hand to focus on, it's always good to get clarity with these things so that the plans can begin to be put in place," Deans said as he prepared his side for their forthcoming series with the British and Irish Lions.

"Twickenham is one of the great destinations so the two games there to finish pool play will be something the playing group will no doubt look forward to."

Meanwhile the WRU insisted a schedule of eight matches - including two quarterfinals - could create a financial windfall.

"A comparison with other major rugby events held in Cardiff indicates that the eight games in 2015 could deliver a £100 million boost to the Welsh economy," the WRU said in a statement.

"In 1999 when nine Rugby World Cup games were played in Wales an independent report estimated that there was an £83 million economic boost."

The Millennium Stadium was built to host the 1999 World Cup Final and also staged four matches during the 2007 tournament, hosted by France.

Lewis said Thursday the 2015 schedule was yet more good news for Welsh rugby, coming in a week where 15 Welshmen were included in a Lions squad, coached by Warren Gatland, seconded from his day job with Wales.

This season also saw Wales retain their Six Nations title and Lewis insisted Thursday: "The news that Rugby World Cup is coming back to the Millennium Stadium is fantastic for Welsh rugby and fantastic for Wales.

"This feast of rugby action will also deliver a huge economic boost to Welsh rugby...Today's news follows the recent Lions announcement and a Six Nations Championship win. It's another fantastic day for the Welsh Rugby Union and a tribute to everyone involved in the game in Wales."

South Africa, two-time winners of the World Cup along with New Zealand and Australia, also welcomed a schedule that will take them to the southern coastal town of Brighton as well as featuring Springbok pool matches at two Premier League football grounds, when they face Samoa at Villa Park on September 26, 2015, and Scotland at St James' Park on October 3.

"Playing in parts of the UK that we don't normally see, such as Brighton, Birmingham and Newcastle, is exciting," said South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer.

"In the end however, the games still have to be won and it doesn't matter where we play."

AFP

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