Saturday, December 8, 2012

All Blacks v Pumas at the Millennium Stadium?


Photo: UAR Rodrigo Vergara
Monday´s Rugby World Cup 2015 Pool allocation saw Argentina and New Zealand drawn together in Pool C alongside Tonga and two yet to be confirmed qualifiers. Rugby World Cup Limited will confirm the number of venues and the venues themselves in March 2013 which will mark the completion of the next stage of planning for England 2015. The draw occured so early on so that the RFU and Rugby World Cup Ltd can have plenty of time to allocate the venues for the Pool matches and play-off´s. The decision of England to have Wales act as a sub-host for 2015 has raised plenty of eyebrows and the draw certainly did not give the idea any help as Wales are to face the host nation England and Tier One powerhouses Australia. The chances of either playing against Wales at the Millennium Stadium are very slim. Wales will now have a tough time convincing Rugby World Cup Limited os hosting these teams. It has not stopped the WRU from trying however as calls were immediately made for Wales v England to be at the Millennium Stadium. The RFU denied the request while Australia has been vocal in arguing its case for not playing in Cardiff either. Should Wales v Australia be in Cardiff it would see the historical move of one team playing Pool matches in two capitals against Tier One opposition. 

Wales is likely to play at the Millennium Stadium but the opposition hgas a far greater chance to come in the form of a qualifying nation. Pool A also features Oceania 1 and the Play-off Winner. Oceania 1 is all but assured of being Fiji while the Play-Off Winner is likely to be Europe 3 which looms as being one of Portugal, Spain or Russia. Neither of these matches are likely to attract sell-out crowds according to history. In Rugby World Cup 2007 Wales v Japan was far from full and Fiji v Canada was also a let-down. Cardiff, nonetheless has won the right to host World Cup matches for a fourth time. The city will be awarded as many as eight matches but with Wales facing England and Australia the liklihood of eight matches eventuating in the Welsh capital are very low. It will certainly be used for at least one Tier One v Tier One match with Pool C´s encounter between The Rugby Championship rivals, Argentina and New Zealand appearing to be a strong candidate.

Both the All Blacks and Pumas played at the Millennium Stadium this past month and both are very marketable teams. The All Blacks will likely be used throughout the host nation as much as possible with New Zealand likely to play, at the most, one match in London. New Zealand will likely play its four matches in the largest stadiums with the likes of Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle all in contention. The Pool only features two Tier One sides with Tonga not having the same drawing power as Argentina. As such should the All Blacks have a match at the Millennium Stadium it is certain to be against Argentina. Los Pumas will likely also play in different parts of England but not at the largest venues. Argentina v Tonga, for instance, could well be allocated to Coventry while Argentina v Europe 1 and Asia 1 could be played in venues such as Leicester, Northampton or Southampton.

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