The venues and fixtures have been officially confirmed for Rugby World Cup 2015 in England. It has been confirmed that 13 venues will be used that cover 10 English cities and the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff and as earlier reported the match scheduling has been amended to redress the balance between top tier nations and other competitors.
The full list of venues is as follows; Twickenham Stadium (London), Wembley Stadium (London), Olympic Stadium (London), Millennium Stadium (Cardiff), Manchester City Stadium (Manchester), St James’ Park (Newcastle), Elland Road (Leeds), Leicester City Stadium (Leicester), Villa Park (Birmingham), Kingsholm Stadium (Gloucester), Stadium MK (Milton Keynes), Brighton Community Stadium (Brighton) and Sandy Park (Exeter).
The tournament will open at Twickenham Stadium on Friday, September 18, 2015, where England will face Oceania 1, confirmed at the close of the qualification process in 2014. In addition to a selection of pool matches, Twickenham Stadium will also host two quarter-finals, the semi-finals and the Final on October 31. Two quarter-finals will also be played in Cardiff at the Millennium Stadium and the Bronze Final will be hosted at the Olympic Stadium. You can view a full schedule here.
Whilst it’s great to see the tournament will be covering so many different cities it still has the feeling of a very London-centric tournament with three stadiums in the capital to be utilised during the tournament. I would go as far as to suggest that the scheduling of the tournament is a bit of a farce to suit the blazer brigade sat at Twickenham who don’t fancy travelling outside of the M25. Looking through the full schedule not a single major match is to be played outside of either Cardiff or London, even in the group stages. I struggle to see how the tournament is going to appeal to the masses when so many are excluded from the big name matches by location.
It feels like a real opportunity lost as this tournament could of helped to spread rugby union to a whole new audience, but instead most of the country is being left with the dregs of the pool stages and not much else. Just one England game will be played outside of Twickenham which to an extent is understandable but why a quarter final and even maybe a semi-final aren’t scheduled for Manchester or Newcastle is beyond me. This is meant to be Rugby World Cup ENGLAND 2015 and yet Cardiff looks set to benefit more than most of the country. I understand the need to have the biggest stadiums available for the tournament but why at least one quarter final isn’t scheduled for Manchester City Stadium or St James’ Park is ridiculous.
It is also disappointing to see just four rugby specific stadiums included in the schedule. The venues very much have a feel of a compromise with tournament organisers more interested in stocking the coffers than building a lasting legacy in the country. Let us know what you think below or on twitter…