Why the Millennium Stadium is being used for England2015 RWC!

Why the Millennium Stadium is being used for England2015 RWC!

Thanks to Terry Burwell for writing this insight on one topic that is being talked about, why the Millennium Stadium (in Wales) is being used for the Rugby World Cup, being hosted in England. You can follow Terry on twitter on @26eltel and I'm sure he'd like your feedback!

I've picked up a lot of comment in social and written media on whether or not the Milennium Stadium should be used for RWC 2015 when England are the host union. Indeed, it looked very odd on Cardiff and at the Stadium to pick up the Tournament branding of ‘England 2015’ in the Cathedral of Welsh Rugby. There are 2 issues that have caused the most debate, should there be matches in Wales and if there are should Wales have ‘home’ advantage in any of them.

Lets deal with the issue of matches in Cardiff first.   In the early days of RWC, the 2nd Tournament was hosted by England but there was an agrrement between the 5 Nations Unions that the matches would be shared in each of the 5 Nations Unions as at this point the commercial potential of the Tournament was unknown.   England hosted the Final at Twickenham but all the other KO rounds were played outside of England, and notably England won in Paris (remember Micky Skinner) and Edinburgh (remember Gavin Hastings).   Matches were played from Pontypool to Beziers and Otley to Pontypridd and Agen!!!

As part of this joint agreement the 5 Unions agreed to support Wales to host the Tournament in 1999 but in return they required to host matches in their pools and the KO matches, other than Wales v Australia were all played outside Wales, with 3 quarter finals in Ireland, Scotland and France and Twickenham hosted both semi-finals for both logistic and commercial reasons. Again matches were played in Beziers and Galashiels, Wrexham and Toulouse as the Tournament started to find its feet.

By 2007 the reciprocal agreement had expired but the FFR and WRU/SRU negotiated to play matches in Wales and Scotland but France were the Host Union. Ironically, England bid for the tournament in 2007 on a sole Union basis but failed to win support from the other Unions as they wished to host all the matches in England, and in any event as JP Rives said at the bid presentation in Dublin," it is the turn of France"

For 2015 England and the IRB (World Rugby now) were determined that the Tournament would be hosted by one country and the bid document required that country to pay a significnat guarantee to World Rugby. The RFU bid needed to generate record receipts from record crowds and to achieve this they negotiated the hire of the Milennium Stadium for a number of matches. This was particularly important as other than London there are very few high capacity stadia outside of the Northern football grounds so there needed to be greater ticket availability in the Rugby heartlands of Wales and the West. It was never a joint bid and it was always understood in the bid that Wales would not play Pool or KO matches against Tier One Unions at a ‘home venue’. Hence the draw has the Quarter Finals from the England/Wales pool at Twickenham and not Cardiff. Sunsequently the WRU tried to argue otherwise but the Australian RU held firm at the Rugby World Cup Board and Wales play Australia at Twickenham. It was agreed that Wales could play their 2 other pool matches in Cardiff, a commercial decision which is probably not fair in the Tier 2 Unions but was borne out of necessity to ensure vibrant ticket sales and that has been the case, despite the high ticket prices.

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