Friday, June 7, 2013

45% of the countries at Rugby World Cup 2015 will play in Wales.

Food for thought ahead of a big weekend of international rugby is the controversial nature of Rugby World Cup 2015´s match allocation. The Doom Scenario severely complicated the process. England suddenly could not host the third seeded team from its pool in the tournament opener and the possibility of having the Millennium Stadium used for marque pool matches had to be re-thought. The WRU reacted to the draw by requesting not only to have Wales play Rugby World Cup matches in Cardiff but do so against both Australia and England.

An England 2015 match involving England was never going to be allocated to Cardiff and with Australia having to already face England at Twickenham it would be very hard for the tournament organizers to have justified having Australia also face Wales in Cardiff. Had that eventuated then it would be viewed as the tournament organizers looking to stack the deck against Australia to give England and Wales a greater chance of both getting out of the pool of death. For this reason the Millennium Stadium was not allocated the match between Australia and Wales. Conversely, England´s two matches against the same sides were allocated to Twickenham on the grounds it is England´s World Cup. Australia was nonetheless concerned with the possibility of being asked to play against Wales in Cardiff. So much so that the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) called upon tournament organizers to prevent Wales from playing a single match in Cardiff during the tournament.  An ARU spokesman said "we would consider it highly inappropriate for Wales to be playing any of those matches at home. England is the host of the event, not Wales. We are mindful that the final decision rests with the Rugby World Cup board."

Although Australia´s wish was granted it was not absolute and in fact was far from it. Out of the twenty teams competing at Rugby World Cup 2015 nine of them have been allocated at least one pool match in Wales. Americas 1, Australia, Europe 1, France, Ireland, New Zealand, Oceania 1, the Play-Off Winner and Wales all have matches at the Millennium Stadium. Put differently although the tournament is branded as England 2015 45% of the competiting nations will play pool matches outside of England. The number could very well increase too given that the winners and runners-up of Pool C and Pool D will play their Quarter Finals matches in Wales. With Argentina likely to qualify and the next in line being Tonga it is all but certain that at least 50% of the teams competing at Rugby World Cup 2015 will play outside of England. Should Italy succeed in reaching the Quarter Finals at the expence of either France or Ireland then the figure would be 55% - hardly an ideal way of enhancing the image of the Rugby World Cup or of the global game. Argentina, in contrast, can host Rugby World Cup 2023 on its own.

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