Baron slams Wales' bid to host England clash
December 6, 2012
Former RFU chief executive Francis Baron insists the Welsh Rugby Union should have no say in where 2015 Rugby World Cup matches are staged © Getty Images
Former RFU chief executive Francis Baron - the man who led England's successful bid for the 2015 Rugby World Cup - insists Wales have no given right to decide where any tournament games are staged.
Wales responded to the recent World Cup pool draw that saw them grouped with England and Australia by making an audacious bid to host their mouth-watering showdown with the hosts. That has since been laughed off by current RFU boss Ian Ritchie and Baron has revealed that they may not even get to host their clash with the Wallabies.
Wales' Millennium Stadium was included on the original bid document with Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Roger Lewis hopeful of staging eight games - including two quarter-finals. But Baron believes that because the WRU are not sharing the financial risk of staging the tournament then they should have no say in where matches are played.
"Roger Lewis is being very cheeky really, and I don't blame him for trying it on," Baron told The Daily Telegraph. "But I made it very clear in my negotiations with the Welsh union, and Roger in particular, that because they wouldn't bear any of the financial risk of the tournament all of England's matches would be played in England, irrespective of who we were playing and that included Wales.
"The RFU has guaranteed £80million to the IRB to host this tournament and that is a big, big commitment and therefore England have to decide where all the big matches are played to make sure they can deliver on that massive financial guarantee. Wales have no risk whatsoever, so it is not appropriate that they should have any say in where the matches should be played."
Baron also revealed that the International Rugby Board were concerned by England's plans to stage games in Wales but the RFU stressed their need to leverage the 72,500 capacity Millennium Stadium to meets their ticket sales target of 2.9m and cover costs. And Baron expects Australia to query any proposal that will see them tackle both of their pool rivals at their 'home' grounds.
"I remember when we were putting the bid together, the other unions were pretty insistent that if Wales got any matches as part of England's bid, they shouldn't benefit in terms of getting easy home draws out of it," he said.
"I think there will be a lot of debate within the IRB that Wales should not have any pool matches at the Millennium Stadium and I am sure that Australia will be arguing that very strongly. They will accept that they have got to play England at Twickenham because we are the hosts, but I think they will be pretty angry that they will then have to play Wales at the Millennium Stadium."
England Rugby 2015 (ER2015), the tournament organiser, is a wholly owned subsidiary of the RFU but neither they or the England management will be able to influence the final venues decision. The ER2015 board will draw up the final fixture schedule, including the final venues list, which will then have to be rubber-stamped by Rugby World Cup Ltd.
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