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Ritchie bites back over Welsh bid to stage World Cup battle

The Webb Ellis Cup sits in front of Tower Bridge during a photocall to launch the Rugby World Cup Pool Draw at Potters Field, London. (Picture: David Davies/PA Wire)

The Webb Ellis Cup sits in front of Tower Bridge during a photocall to launch the Rugby World Cup Pool Draw at Potters Field, London. (Picture: David Davies/PA Wire)

Rugby Football Union chief executive Ian Ritchie has rejected the proposal that England’s 2015 Rugby World Cup pool match against Wales should be played in Cardiff.

England are the host nation of the tournament, but the RFU’s bid included the prospect of the Millennium Stadium being used for up to eight matches, including two quarter-finals.

England and Wales were drawn together alongside Australia in the World Cup’s ‘pool of death’, with the likelihood of them being joined by Fiji as Oceania qualifiers.

Immediately after the draw, Welsh Rugby Union boss Roger Lewis suggested Wales should play England at the Millennium Stadium because “it is the finest rugby stadium in the world”.

Ritchie’s response to the WRU was a polite thank you, but no thank you – and that is the message he will take to the board of England Rugby 2015, who will make the final decision on venues.

“We have a very nice home of our own and I would hope very much we would contemplate playing the match here,” said Yorkshireman Ritchie, who is overseeing a £76m upgrade of Twickenham stadium.

“With our modest little stadium here at Twickenham, with the further investment we might be able to make it into a decent spot to play rugby.

“We equally believe we are very good hosts here and that we could hold a decent game here and would very much want to do that. We will not get a better opportunity to inspire people to play rugby, be volunteers and participate in rugby.

“We are putting the building blocks in place to make sure we can take the most advantage of having the World Cup.”

The final decision on fixture dates and tournament venues will be made by tournament organisers England Rugby 2015, of which Ritchie is a board member, by the end of March.

ER2015 currently has a list of 17 potential venues – of which one is Leeds United’s Elland Road – that will be whittled down to between 12 and 14 once the fixture matrix for the 48 matches has been finalised.

“The draw brings up all sorts of things about who plays where,” said Ritchie.

“How do we inspire the game around the country and who plays where? It is a complex matrix and as a member of the board we have a responsibility to look at the total competition.”

ER2015 will discuss whether the host nation should play pool matches away from Twickenham.

 

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