World Cup rugby is heading to Exeter after it was this morning confirmed that Sandy Park will be one of the 13 match venues for the prestigious tournament in 2015.
The eyes of the rugby world will be on the Devon city as the Premiership Rugby ground plays hosts to three World Cup matches.
Scheduled fixtures planned for Sandy Park will see Tonga take on the qualifiers of Africa One on Tuesday, September 29. After which the winners of Africa One and Europe One will tackle one another; with the final fixture on Sunday, October 11 featuring Italy against Europe Two.
Taking the game to ten cities across the country, England Rugby 2015 enables to showcase the game to a large audience across the length and breadth of the country.
The Match Schedule will see 25 matches played in dedicated rugby venues, seven in multi-event stadia and 16 in football venues. This blend of stadia will provide a variety of Rugby World Cup match-day experiences and over two million opportunities for fans to engage with one of the world’s most recognisable major sports events.
The Tournament will open at Twickenham Stadium on Friday September 18, 2015, where England will face Oceania 1, confirmed at the close of the Qualification process in 2014. In addition to a selection of Pool games, Twickenham Stadium will also host two Quarter-Finals, the Semi-Finals and the Final on October 31. Two Quarter Finals will also be played in Cardiff at the Millennium Stadium and the Bronze Final will be hosted at the Olympic Stadium.
Confirmation of the Match Venues and Match Schedule follows approval from the Rugby World Cup Limited (RWCL) Board and an extensive and thorough evaluation process, undertaken by England Rugby 2015 in collaboration with tournament owners RWCL, Host Broadcaster ITV, and commercial stakeholders.
The 13 Match Venues selected from the long list of 17 named in October 2012, plus Sandy Park added last month and the Manchester City Stadium which replaces Old Trafford, took into account geographical spread, sporting and facilities criteria, support from host cities, and capacity requirements to deliver the best possible platform for a fully engaging world class Tournament for fans and teams.
England Rugby 2015 also launched the vision for Rugby World Cup 2015 today outlining the Tournament as a celebration of rugby and its unique values, exciting and inspiring our nation and the world to play and support the game.
Welcoming today’s decision, Tony Rowe OBE, chairman and chief executive of Exeter Rugby Club, said: “The news that Sandy Park and the City of Exeter have been selected as a Rugby World Cup venue is fantastic news not only for everyone associated with the club, but also Exeter, Devon and the South West as a whole.
“Bringing the World Cup to our doorsteps is a massive achievement and again highlights how we as a club are now seen by others within the game. Already a great deal of hard work has been put in as part of the application process, but this will increase significantly over the next few months as we look to offer the perfect venue for the game’s premier tournament.”
Pete Edwards, Exeter City Council Leader, said: “This is fantastic news for Exeter – I am absolutely chuffed to bits! Once again, this puts Exeter on the world map and the city will be doing its uppermost to contribute to this thrilling sporting event and provide a genuinely warm welcome to UK and international visitors.
“We have been working closely with the Exeter Chiefs to make this happen and will continue doing so right up until the kick off in 2015, when the eyes of the nation and indeed the world will be focused on Exeter.”
The 13 match venues and host cities selected are: Twickenham Stadium (London), Wembley Stadium (London), Olympic Stadium (London), Millennium Stadium (Cardiff), Manchester City Stadium (Manchester), St James’ Park (Newcastle), Elland Road (Leeds), Leicester City Stadium (Leicester), Villa Park (Birmingham), Kingsholm Stadium (Gloucester), stadiummk (Milton Keynes), Brighton Community Stadium (Brighton) and Sandy Park (Exeter).
England Rugby 2015 Chief Executive, Debbie Jevans, commented: “The world can now start planning for Rugby World Cup 2015. Today, we’ve brought the tournament to life, announcing the match venues and the full match schedule.
“In less than two-and-a-half years’ time, we will be welcoming the world to England and to a celebration of rugby, played in a range of atmospheric stadiums right across the country. Rugby has so much to offer – and over the next two-and-a-half years, we will be working hard with RWCL to deliver a tournament which celebrates the unique values of rugby and excites and inspires the nation and the world to play and support the game.
“The countdown to 2015 begins in earnest today and we look forward to welcoming the world to England in 2015.”
Meanwhile, RWCL Chairman Bernard Lapasset commented: “The delivery of the Match Schedule and Match Venues in collaboration with England Rugby 2015 is an important milestone for what promises to be a truly spectacular Rugby World Cup.
“Through this rigorous process we have been able to develop solid foundations for the best tournament experience for all participating teams, the host nation and the global rugby community.
“Rugby World Cup 2015 is about opportunity. It is the promise of more than 2 million opportunities to engage with one of the world’s biggest major sports events. It is the opportunity to engage new fans the length and breadth of the country and to grow rugby around the world in order that more men, women and children may experience the sport and its character-building values. It is set to be an exceptional event for the teams, the fans, the host nation, and the continued development of Rugby worldwide.”
For more information on the tournament, make sure you visit: www.rugbyworldcup.com