Thursday, May 30, 2013

How would Argentina 2023 compare to England 2015?

It is not controversial to suggest that the booking that went into Rugby World Cup 2015 did not deliver a list of venues or a match schedule that matched what had been promised by the RFU. England´s bid to host Rugby World Cup 2015 was very different to the final result which has seen London and Cardiff been allocated twenty-five out of the tournament´s forty-eight matches. In making the bid in 2009 RFU Director of Business Paul Vaughan publicly said that "We will use some of the largest and iconic stadia in the world, venues like Twickenham Stadium (82,000), Wembley (90,000), Old Trafford (76,000), the Millennium Stadium (74,000) and the Emirates (61,000)". His use of the word will was clearly misdirected as neither Old Trafford nor Emirates Stadium will host matches. Other venues were also included in the bid only to not have been allocated matches. Indeed, despite having been a part of the bid, vone of Coventry, Liverpool and Southampton will host matches. Two of the three missed out with other cities from their regions instead hosting. 

The final result is Rugby World Cup 2015 will feature thirteen venues with three being in London and one outside of England. The eight others are spread around England but the match allocation sees some venues having a noticably lower number of matches than others. The size of the city has overall not factored in. Indeed England´s second and third largest cities have only been allocated three matches between them with Birmingham to host Australia v the play-off winner and South Africa v Samoa while England will face the play-off winner in Manchester. Smaller cities have more matches with Exeter, Gloucester and Leicester all having done well for themselves. They are, of course, cities with established teams in the Aviva Premiership and the Rugby World Cup organizer will have greater freedom over the use of their stadiums during the World Cup. The same is not true of the soccer owned venues. Clubs have clearly limited the dates in which games can be played which explains the low number of allocated matches to all venues that are owned by a soccer institution or in which the primary tentat is a soccer club.  

This is a warning to future Rugby World Cup hosts, notably Argentina and Italy. In both cases soccer is the dominant sport. Unlike in England, however, many stadiums happen to be city owned rather than being the property of a soccer club. Five of Argentina´s six home tests in 2013 will be played in city owned stadiums with the only exception being Argentina´s match in the Rugby Championship against Australia in Rosario. Unlike the RFU, the UAR and the FIR, also have a history in playing matches throughout their countries. As such authorities would likely have far more flexibility in hosting matches in Argentine stadia that turned out to be the case for England 2015. How though do the stadiums compare? 

Overall England has larger stadiums but the differences are not so profound considering which venues are hosting less than three matches. Despite having thirteen venues for the tournament Birmingham, Brighton, Leeds, Manchester, and Wembley are to host one or two matches each. By way of comparison small New Zealand towns including Napier, Palmerston North and Whangarei hosted two matches each during Rugby World Cup 2011. Meanwhile the two smallest venues for England 2015 - Exeter and Gloucester have been allocated three and four matches. They are smaller venues than the two smallest suggested in the book Rugby World Cup Argentina 2023 to host Rugby World Cup matches. In the book I argued that Argentina could host a Rugby World Cup on its own and do so by having matches played in the country´s largest cities which are quite generously distributed around the country. 

The cities of Salta and Resistencia had the smallest capacity venues and were suggested to host three matches each while Mar del PlataSanta Fé, San Juan and Tucumán would, in terms of capacity, be comparable to venues including Brighton, Leeds, Leicester and Milton Keynes. The largest venues for England 2015 - the Olympic Stadium, Twickenham and Wembley in London are comparable to the profiled venues of Avellaneda, River Plate Stadium and Estádio Unico in Greater Buenos Aires and La Plata. Argentina´s version of the Millennium Stadium could be Córdoba, its Newcastle could be Mendoza and  Rosario could be Argentina´s Birmingham. 

The average stadium capacity of the Argentine stadiums covered is slightly greater than 40,000 which is lower than that of England 2015 but larger than both Australia 2003 and New Zealand 2007. But as shown in the Rugby World Cup 2015 match schedule the distribution of matches and the quantity of matches per venue is not related to the overall capacity of the venue. Four sold out matches at Gloucester would not match one sold out match at Twickenham, Wembley or the Millennium Stadium. Wembley, nonetheless, only has two matches. This means that, during the group phase, the most important venues are those used to host four pool matches and not the supersized stadiums seating 40,000 or more people. Of the twelve venues that hosted matches in France 2007 there were five that hosted four pool matches - Bordeaux, Marseilles, Montpellier, Paris (Parc des Princes) and Toulouse. Argentina 2023 has similar sized venues as these making it capable of delivering a very successful tournament that need not see a heavy concentration of matches in the capital and the use of neighboring countries facilities.

Manchester has not been included in the following chart due to it only hosting one match. It has a capacity of 47,800. Should Argentina require a thirteenth venue a strong candidate would be the Estadio 23 de Agosto in San Salvador de Jujuy. It was upgraded for the 2011 Copa America in which it hosted Costa Rica´s matches against Bolivia and Colombia. The stadium has modern facilities with a seating capacity of 23,000. Together with Salta it would give the north-west two venues for the tournament. It is a case in point of size not being overly significant. A host nation needs large venues for Tier One v Tier One matches ad medium ad smaller sized ones for those featuring tier two and three sides. Indeed, England 2015 will see Scotland playing a match in Gloucester.  Overall the total capacity of the facilities can be compared as follows:

England 2015
Argentina 2023
Twickenham 80,000
Buenos Aires 64,000
Wembley 90,000
La Plata 53,000
Olympic Stadium 54,000
Avellaneda 48,000
Cardiff 74,000
Córdoba 57,000
Newcastle 52,000
Rosario 41,654
Birmingham 42,788
Mendoza 40,268
Leeds 37,900
Santa Fá 40,000
Leicester 32,000
Mar del Plata 35,354
Milton Keynes 32,000
Tucumán 32,700
Brighton 30,750
San Juan 25,000
Exeter 20,600
Resistencia 23,000
Gloucester 16,500
Salta 20,408

* Sources for the sizes of the Argentine venues are the same as those given in the book.

* A number of the English venues currently have differing capacities but will have those listed above for the World Cup.

1 comment:

  1. Why not make some games in Brazil, Uruguay and Chile? Several World Cup already did that.

    Can you imagine a semi-final game in Maracanã (Rio de Janeiro)? Or a quarter-final in Centenário Stadium (Uruguay)? Awesome!