Welford Road scoops 'Venue of the Year' honour
November 16, 2012
Welford Road has scooped an award for the 'Rugby Venue of the Year' © Getty Images
Leicester Tigers' Welford Road home has been named the Venue of the Year at the Rugby Expo awards in London.
The Tigers' historic home edged out Sale's Salford City Stadium for the honour that follows the controversial decision to axe the biggest club rugby ground in the country from the list of potential venues for the 2015 Rugby World Cup
Leicester Tigers chief executive Simon Cohen, whose club also claimed the Innovation in marketing award for their Tigers Family Campaign, said: "We're delighted that Leicester Tigers topped the judging panel's decisions in two categories.
"Welford Road is an iconic home of rugby. It is the biggest dedicated club rugby stadium in the country, with the biggest home crowds in the country, and we take huge pride in the number of world-class players who have played here either for Tigers or with visiting teams from across the UK, Europe and beyond.
"Our supporters were bitterly disappointed to learn that Welford Road would not host matches at the Rugby World Cup in England in three years' time, not just because it means they miss an historic opportunity to witness Test match rugby at their own home ground, but also because they all appreciate that this is a superb rugby stadium and a great place to watch a game.
"The IRB chose to set its Rugby World Cup criteria based primarily on pitch size and facilities for players and media, whereas the supporters who attend games here prefer to focus on the entire package of matchday. From the judging panel's decision to present us with the award as Rugby Venue of the Year, it seems a lot of people outside the club agree with that standpoint.
"Welford Road is a stadium built exclusively for rugby, the players reach the pitch through the crowd, the crowd are close to the action on all four sides, they generate great noise from the stands and it all helps to produce a top-class rugby venue and occasion here.
"We've hosted matches against international teams five times in the last seven seasons as well as welcoming England Saxons and age-group sides in that time, and of course host big crowds in the Aviva Premiership and in Europe week in week out.
"It is entirely appropriate that the award as Rugby Venue of the Year has been presented in the same week that we welcomed an international touring side to play here and enjoyed a top-class fixture with the Maori All Blacks which will live long in the memory of the supporters."
Rugby Expo is a global conference and exhibition for both rugby codes and brings together representatives of unions, clubs, rights holders, brands, broadcasters, suppliers and innovators. Among the other award winners was Rugby Football Union chairman and former England captain Bill Beaumont who was honoured for his 'outstanding contribution to rugby'.
Rugby Expo Awards:
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Tom Hamilton pays a visit to Oxford University Women's Rugby Football Club who have recently made headlines across the world, from Tokyo to New York
"Gentlemen, if you want to see the World Cup going south yet again, you are going the right way about it," John Taylor looks at the state of European rugby
The Heineken Cup proved once again just why it is the best domestic rugby competition in the world at the weekend and Monday Maul picks out some of the key talking points