Rugby chiefs aim to relight Olympic fire with World Cup 2015 stadium use

By Chris Foy

|


Organisers of the 2015 Rugby World Cup want to use the Olympic Stadium as one of their venues for the country’s next global sporting event.

But their plan to make a formal application is on hold because there is uncertainty over issues such as tenancy and future capacity.

It is expected that the stadium, which currently holds 80,000, will eventually be occupied by West Ham United.

Bring the magic back: Rugby chiefs want to use the Olympic Stadium

Bring the magic back: Rugby chiefs want to use the Olympic Stadium

‘We have the option of using the Olympic Park to stage matches and that is at the forefront of our minds,’ said Ross Young, England Rugby 2015’s chief operating officer, on Monday.

‘The issue we have is that they (Olympic Park Legacy Company) have gone through a number of options in terms of the long-term use of the stadium. That process is still on-going and it doesn’t fit into the time-line we have to operate within. The issue is we can’t get finite answers.’

Officials from ER 2015 have visited more than 20 venues in the past few months and reported to the organisation’s board a week ago.

Prospective host cities have been asked to submit proposals this week to support their applications — including financial input, the provision of fan zones, organising of special events around fixtures and other initiatives.

While a list of potential venues will be submitted to Rugby World Cup Ltd next month, the Olympic legacy authorities will be given every opportunity to ensure the stadium can join that list.

Future unknown: The next tenants of the stadium have not been decided

Future unknown: The next tenants of the stadium have not been decided

‘We will give the Olympic Park Legacy Company more time to come back to us with the answers we need,’ said Young. ‘Their major workload doesn’t just stop with the parade in London, so what we’ve said to them is to come back to us as soon as is practicable.

‘When you’ve got a venue which worked as well as it has, with twice the number of people to get in and out (compared to projected attendances for World Cup matches), then it would be na´ve not to consider it.

‘The first thing we have to answer is whether top-level rugby could be played at that venue, but for now we don’t have that info.

‘Once the draw has been made, our time-line will involve the match schedule being finalised in the first quarter of next year. Until then, there is flexibility in terms of venue selection, but if that time comes and there are still too many question marks over the Olympic Park, then we will have to decide whether to hold on any longer or allocate games to other stadiums.’

Wait and see: The application is currently on hold

Wait and see: The application is currently on hold

A number of city and town councils around the country — largely in conjunction with local football clubs — have approached ER 2015 to make applications to host matches, leading to regional contests between rival bidding venues.

It is understood that organisers will encourage this type of competition, with examples such as Sunderland challenging Newcastle in the North East, and Derby and Coventry vying with the rugby stronghold of Leicester in the East Midlands.

There is increased interest in considering East Anglia as a location for fixtures in light of strong interest from Ipswich, while the only ‘gap’ area is one of the sport’s hot-beds, the South West, due to a lack of suitable stadia. That opens the door for Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium to pick up the slack.

In London, either the Olympic Stadium or Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium will serve as the third venue, with 90,000-capacity  Wembley already pencilled in and Twickenham — which is due to undergo redevelopment to improve facilities — ready to stage the opening game and final.

THE POSSIBLE VENUES

RFU’S original selection: London: Twickenham (82,000 capacity), Wembley (90,000), Emirates (60,361); Cardiff: Millennium Stadium (74,500); Manchester: Old Trafford (75,765); Liverpool: Anfield (45,276); Leeds: Elland Road (37,697); Newcastle: St James’ Park (52,387); Coventry: Ricoh Arena (32,609); Leicester: Welford Road (24,000); Southampton:  St Mary’s Stadium (32,689); Gloucester: Kingsholm (16,500).

Now under consideration — London: Olympic Stadium (to be reduced to 60,000); Derby: Pride Park (33,597); Ipswich: Portman Road (30,311); Leicester: King Power Stadium (32,262); Sunderland: Stadium of Light (49,000); Birmingham: Villa Park (42,788); Brighton: AMEX Stadium (27,350); Reading: Madejski Stadium (24,161).

 

 

The comments below have been moderated in advance.

Tom in Telford.... I'm talking about two different sports - Rugby League and Rugby Union - which both have "World Cups". The Rugby League World Cup is in 2013 and the Rugby Union World Cup is in 2015. I don't understand your comment sorry!

Click to rate     Rating   (0)

Alex2012.... I Think there may be some confusion... the rugby league is Great British event... the rugby union is only in suppost to be in England.. however adding the millenium stadium makes it a bit confusing! maybe because it is a brilliant stadium,= (the same goes for the Scottish & Irish stadia)....i suppose they have to draw the line somewhere otherwise it would be called a Great British event

Click to rate     Rating   1

"Keep telling yourself that mate" Bad comeback...! And no I won't tell myself that, as I see no value in talking to myself. But I will tell others, as it's true.

Click to rate     Rating   1

@alex2012 Keep telling yourself that mate

Click to rate     Rating   1

Mike in Reading............The Rugby League World Cup is a global sporting event, despite the insistence from yourself and perhaps few in the Southern based media that it isn't. Teams from America, Europe and Oceania will compete in the tournament. The term "global" doesn't mean that every country in the world has to participate. If that's the case then the Rugby Union World Cup isn't global either.

Click to rate     Rating   4

@Zworm, The reason they are thinking of using the Millenium stadium is because the Welsh rugby union endorsed England's bid. Think of it as bribing if you will ; )

Click to rate     Rating   (0)

What about Murrayfield and an Irish venue? I see Millenium listed.

Click to rate     Rating   4

alex2012 It's not ignorant at all you The League World Cup is not a global sporting event.

Click to rate     Rating   1

@ art924 , San Francisco, 11/9/2012 01:06 Unlike Football, Rugby isn't a bottomless pit of Oil money and debt. The RFU can't just erect a few 45k+ capacity stadiums around the country. If you read the list at the bottom, the three biggest Rugby stadiums are being used, but that is not enough for a World Cup and the other grounds are too small to realistically host Internationals. They will only be playing at those Football grounds with permission from the clubs. Also, they are spreading the games throughout the country, so every rugby fan has more oppertunity to enjoy the tournament.

Click to rate     Rating   8

There is a Rugby League World Cup in 2013 which is hosted in England, Wales, Ireland and France. It's rather ignorant to say that the 2015 Rugby Union World Cup is the country's next global sporting event.

Click to rate     Rating   8

The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.