Rugby World Cup: Elland Road to host ‘contrasting styles’

Sergio Parisse: One of Europe's finest fowards will be on show at Elland Road.
Sergio Parisse: One of Europe's finest fowards will be on show at Elland Road.
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At first glance, the Rugby World Cup looks like an event hosted by the south of England, not necessarily England as a whole.

Ten venues south of the Midlands, means only three are north of Nottingham.

Only six of the 48 games will be contested ‘up ‘ere’; three at Newcastle’s St James’ Park, one at the City of Manchester Stadium, and at least for the union fraternity here in Yorkshire, two at Elland Road.

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While the one game across the Pennines is England’s final pool game against Uruguay on Saturday, June 10, two weeks prior to that, Leeds United’s Elland Road hosts two group games.

On Saturday, September 26, Italy play Canada in Pool D (2.30pm kick-off) before 24 hours later, Scotland face the United States in Pool B.

Neither fixture carries a heavyweight name like an Australia or a New Zealand, but in the unravelling of a World Cup story, each could be key games. They could also be, unlike some fixtures at the quadrennial gathering of superpowers and minnows, tight contests.

Italy and Scotland, marginal favourites in both games, are not known for their ability to put emerging nations to the sword.

Both games offer the chance to see different approaches, with Six Nations’ sides and their smattering of individual panache like Finn Russell for Scotland and Sergio Parisse for Italy, up against hard-grafting opponents whose unity may cause a surprise.

Sir Ian McGeechan, who led Scotland to a World Cup before, will be an interested observer at both. He said: “Scotland have generally done well at a World Cup and the other three teams offer contrasting styles.”