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2015 Rugby World Cup
Welford Road axed from World Cup venue options
ESPN Staff
October 8, 2012

England Rugby 2015 (ER 2015), the organiser of the next Rugby World Cup, has announced the long list of 17 potential match venues - and there is no room for the biggest club rugby stadium in the country.

In a shock decision, there is no room for Leicester's Welford Road, with Leicester City FC's stadium preferred, making Gloucester's Kingsholm the only traditional rugby ground to be in the running to play a leading role in the 48-match tournament.

The list features five Premier League grounds - Villa Park, Old Trafford, the Sports Direct Arena, St Mary's Stadium and the Stadium of Light - despite doubts over the availability of those venues due to a clash with the start of the football season while the Olympic Stadium also makes the grade with the long-term future of that venue also unclear.

Outside of the Premier League, ER2015 have included the Amex Stadium in Brighton, Bristol City's Ashton Gate, Pride Park in Derby, Coventry's Ricoh Arena, Elland Road in Leeds and Stadium MK in Milton Keynes.

Confirmation comes after approval from the Rugby World Cup Limited (RWCL) Board and follows an extensive and thorough evaluation process, undertaken by ER 2015 in collaboration with tournament owners RWCL, host broadcaster ITV, and commercial stakeholders.

The selection procedure for the long list of venues took into account a geographical spread across the country, sporting and facilities criteria, levels of support from candidate host cities and capacity requirements for the successful delivery of a Rugby World Cup that will see approximately 2.9m tickets being made available to fans, and upwards of 400,000 international fans visiting England from over 100 countries.

"Our vision for Rugby World Cup 2015 is to ensure that we take this prestigious tournament to as many parts of the country as possible and we believe that the geographical spread of venues selected will enable us to maximise the reach of the tournament," said ER2015 chairman Andy Cosslett. "In addition, we will be selecting further venues for training and team base camps that will ensure that the rugby community is at the very heart of Rugby World Cup 2015.

"We will now continue to work extremely closely with the venues, cities and stakeholders, including the Premier League and Football League, to plan the scheduling of matches and city hosting programmes to select a final list of up to 12 venues, which will be agreed by the early part of next year.

"We are confident that with the venues selected we will be able to reach our target of having up to 2.9 million tickets available, opening up the tournament to more people than ever before and in turn delivering the biggest and best Rugby World Cup that there has ever been.

"The process of choosing the long list of venues was very competitive and we would like to thank the venues and cities who we have met for their full co-operation, including the venues not selected, all of whom provided us with their fulsome assistance and information required to make our selection."

In order to undertake the next stage in the venue selection process, ER 2015 will continue to hold positive discussions with the venues in collaboration with their respective city councils, regional authorities and other stakeholders, including the Premier League and Football League.

The Pool Allocation Draw for the tournament is taking place in London on December 3, after which ER 2015 and RWCL will be in a position to work through the fixture schedule with all stakeholders to select a final list of up to 12 venues, which will be concluded by spring next year.

RWCL and IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset welcomed the latest stage of preparations for the sport's showpiece event. He said: "Rugby World Cup Limited is delighted with the range of locations and iconic stadia, steeped in sporting folklore, that have been selected as potential Rugby World Cup 2015 match venues. We are very fortunate that England possesses some of the finest sporting venues in the world.

"We have developed a strong working partnership with ER 2015 and planning and preparation continues to advance ahead of schedule. We are sure that this selection of sporting venues will capture the imagination of rugby and sport fans not just in England but all over the world. It is a testament to the strength of the Rugby World Cup brand that there has been such strong interest from a wide range of English cities and venues to host and be a part of the world's third largest sporting event."

Rugby World Cup 2015 will involve 48 matches and will take place over a six-week period from September 18 to October 31, 2015.

The long list of venues selected by ER 2015 and approved by the RWCL Board is as follows:
1. Villa Park, Birmingham
2. Brighton Community Stadium, Brighton
3. Ashton Gate, Bristol
4. Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
5. Coventry Stadium, Coventry
6. Pride Park, Derby
7. Kingsholm, Gloucester
8. Elland Road, Leeds
9. Leicester City Stadium, Leicester
10. Olympic Stadium, London
11. Twickenham Stadium, London
12. Wembley Stadium, London
13. Old Trafford, Manchester
14. Stadiummk, Milton Keynes
15. St James' Park, Newcastle
16. St Mary's Stadium, Southampton
17. Stadium of Light, Sunderland

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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