England reignite row with talks over switching World Cup tie to football stadium

England reignite row with talks over switching World Cup tie to football stadium

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UPDATED:

08:10 GMT, 18 September 2012

The organisers of the 2015 Rugby World Cup are in discussions with the RFU over the possibility of England playing one of their group games in the tournament away from Twickenham.

Wednesday marks three years to go until the start of the tournament, which England won the right to host back in 2009.

On the road: England have played two internationals at Old Trafford

On the road: England have played two internationals at Old Trafford

The organising committee for the tournament, England Rugby 2015 (ER 2015) are determined to take the event across Britain and have confirmed that a number of matches will be played at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

ER 2015's biggest challenge in ensuring a legacy from the tournament will come in the north of England, however, where football and rugby league are the favoured winter sports.

Sale are the only northern team currently in the Aviva Premiership and ER 2015 hope to boost participation by playing one of England's warm-up games, or one of their group fixtures, at a big northern stadium like Old Trafford or St James' Park.

'Those are options that are under consideration and are being discussed with the RFU,' ER 2015 chairman Andy Cosslett said.

'There is a tremendous appetite for making sure this world cup gets to as many corners of the country as we can take it.

'Taking it out of the traditional rugby strongholds, where we are fighting the battle against Premier League football teams, is a priority.

Controversy: World Cup officials want to play matches away from rugby heartland

Controversy: World Cup officials want to play matches away from rugby heartland

'The RFU are very supportive of that. We haven't come to a final conclusion yet, but I think you will find there are a fair few northerners (at the RFU) like (England head coach) Stuart Lancaster and (chief executive) Ian Ritchie so I am sure that we can do the right thing.'

England have only played two internationals at Old Trafford before – in 2009 against Argentina and 12 years earlier when they took on New Zealand in Sir Clive Woodward's second game in charge.

Next month a 20-strong long list of potential stadia will be whittled down to between 10 and 12 for the tournament.

Concerns have been raised that too much emphasis is being placed on hitting a 100million profit target by taking the matches to bigger-capacity football stadia like Old Trafford, Elland Road and Villa Park.

Only two rugby club grounds – Leicester's Welford Road and Gloucester's Kingsholm Stadium – were included in the original bid for the competition due to the low capacity of other top-flight rugby stadia.

ER 2015 chief operating officer Ross Young tried to play down fears the traditional heartlands of rugby were being overlooked, but conceded that any stadium used in the competition must be able to help deliver the body's overall target of raising 100million.

He said: 'There is always a desire to include at least one rugby club, but it all has got to fit properly.

'You have to put the right games in the right venues.'

ER 2015 hope they can raise their 100million profit target by capturing the imagination of the sports fans who are suffering withdrawal symptoms following the Olympics.

'A lot will depend on the ticketing strategy, but we are very confident we will be able to capture the interest and the momentum that's built in this country in rugby specifically and sport in general because of what has happened (at the Olympics).

'Given there are only so many games and so many opportunities to watch the best in the world, we are pretty confident we will be able to manage that and turn out a good financial result.'