RFU rebuff Wales' offer to host World Cup clash
LONDON (AFP) –
The Rugby Football Union (RFU) have rejected a proposal from their Welsh counterparts that the 2015 Rugby World Cup match between England and Wales be played in Cardiff.
Hosts England were drawn in the same group as Wales in Monday’s draw, prompting the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) to suggest the encounter between the sides should take place at the Millennium Stadium in the Welsh capital.
England’s bid to host the event listed the south Wales stadium as a potential venue for up to eight matches but RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie said that England would prefer to tackle Wales on home ground.
“We have a very nice home of our own and I would hope very much we would contemplate playing the match here,” he said on Tuesday, before proceeding tongue-in-cheek.
“With our modest little stadium here at Twickenham, with the further investment we might be able to make it into a decent spot to play rugby.
“We equally believe we are very good hosts here and that we could hold a decent game here and would very much want to do that. Shock, horror and astonishment that I would suggest that!
“We will not get a better opportunity to inspire people to play rugby, be volunteers and participate in rugby. We are putting the building blocks in place to make sure we can take the most advantage of having the World Cup.”
Ritchie is currently overseeing a £76 million ($122.4 million, 93.6 million euros) upgrade of Twickenham, the home of English rugby.
Twickenham currently seats 82,000 fans, making it the biggest stadium in the world used solely for rugby, while the Millennium Stadium has a capacity of 74,500.
England and Wales were drawn alongside Australia in a daunting Group A and could also be joined by Fiji as qualifiers from Oceania.
Having seen his side overwhelm world champions New Zealand in a record 38-21 victory at Twickenham on Saturday, England coach Stuart Lancaster has no desire to concede home advantage to Wales.
“Clearly, from our point of view, Twickenham would be our preferred venue,” he said after the draw was made.
“Before the All Blacks game I was asked about the haka and said that we’d respect it as a cultural ritual, but it was also true we had 82,000 people behind us.
“We certainly felt that in the stands and I am sure (captain) Chris (Robshaw) and the boys felt it on the pitch. It was an unbelievable atmosphere. It was a special day.
“What home advantage did for the Olympians is a great example of how it inspires people to an extra five or 10 percent and sometimes at this level, that’s what’s needed.”