World Cup chiefs prepared to wait for Olympic Stadium
March 15, 2013
Rugby World Cup organisers remain hopeful that they will be able to use the Olympic Stadium © Getty Images
Rugby World Cup Limited (RWCL) has delayed confirming the 12 venues for the 2015 tournament in England in the hope that the Olympic Stadium can be included.
RWC'15 Venues Long List
The preferred venues were expected to be submitted to the RWCL board today for approval but no final decision was taken with officials hopeful the issue regarding the long-term tenancy of the Olympic Stadium can be resolved and the subsequent use for the World Cup be agreed.
The iconic venue was included on the 17-venue long list announced by tournament organisers England Rugby 2015 (ER2015) last year but hopes that it may feature have since faded due to delays in the signing off of a deal that would see Premier League football club West Ham United become tenants. Subsequent issues regarding the timeframe for the construction work required to reconfigure the stadium were thought to have all but ended its chances of hosting any games.
But ER2015 revealed earlier this month that they were still in discussions with all the proposed venues with RWCL understood to be willing to wait an extra month in the hope a suitable resolution can be reached.
Following today's meeting, RWCL chairman Bernard Lapasset said: "The Board received a detailed update on all aspects of tournament preparation and delivery during a very positive meeting, which reaffirmed the belief that England 2015 is on track to be an exceptional event.
"The selection of venues and match schedule composition is central to bringing to life Rugby World Cup 2015 for fans and teams, blending the best sporting facilities, iconic venues and a nationwide festival that stretches the length and breadth of the country.
"It is a complex and rigorous process involving numerous stakeholders and variables and is pivotal to the success of the event. The Board agreed that giving time to further explore the possibility of including the Olympic Stadium is the right thing for the tournament. We will continue to work in partnership with England Rugby 2015 and look forward to confirming the final details in the coming weeks."
ER2015 chief executive Debbie Jevans said: "We are determined to select the best venues and deliver the optimum schedule for the Rugby World Cup, and are delighted to have received such strong support from the Rugby World Cup Limited Board for our proposals today. Our plans are on track and we are confident that we will finalise the schedule and the venues in the next few weeks."
Twickenham will host both the opening game and the final with the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff and Gloucester's Kingsholm the only other rugby grounds included on the original long list. They were later joined by Exeter Chiefs' Sandy Park that replaced Bristol City FC's Ashton Gate following the decision to redevelop the latter venue.
If chosen, the Olympic Stadium can expect to host several high-profile matches but the tournament is set to be dominated by football stadiums with the larger capacity at Wembley and Manchester United's Old Trafford offering organisers the best chance of selling their target of 2.9m tickets and recouping the £80m hosting fee.
Leeds United's Elland Road, Leicester City's King Power Stadium, Sunderland's Stadium of Light and Newcastle's St James' Park also vying for inclusion. Aston Villa's Villa Park, Coventry City's Ricoh Arena, Brighton & Hove Albion's Amex Stadium, Southampton's St Mary's Stadium and MK Dons' Stadium MK have also been tipped to play a role in the tournament.
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