Thursday, October 3, 2013

England´s 2014 test matches are to all be in London

England will host RWC 2015 after playing zero tests outside of Twickenham since winning hosting rights
Twickenham is the home of English rugby. As the property of the RFU it is used for the purposes of international competition. Whenever England plays an international rugby match the game is played at the national stadium. History, size, support and financial considerations all factor into why it is utilized exclusively. 

For a second time in history Twickenham will play host to a Rugby World Cup final when in 2015 it will be the centre-piece of the tournament. In total it is to host ten matches - five pool games and five in the knock-out phase. Joining the home of English rugby will be two other stadiums in Greater London. Both Wembley Stadium and the Olympic Stadium are to host matches to give London a total of 17 matches in Rugby World Cup 2015. Put differenty London will host 35.4% of the matches in England´s World Cup. 

The final allocation of matches was far from being even in terms of where rugby is and is no strong in the country. Nor were matches distributed in terms of which places have the larger venues or to cities with the larger populations. Rather the match allocation process gave matches to cities based on specific dates due to the tournament organizaers not having the same freedom as France did in 2007 when it was able to have an even distribution of three of four pool matches per stadium with no venue having more or less. 

France, as a host nation, had advantages over England which came down to the FFR not having a national stadium unlike the RFU. With France´s rugby authority not owning a stadium the test team regularly played outside of Paris and continues to do so in 2013. France v Tonga next month will be played at La Havre while France faced Argentina in Lille in 2012. Curiously neither city hosted Rugby World Cup matches in 2007 but others that did such as Bordeaux, Lens, Lyon, Marseilles, Nantes and Toulouse all hosted French rugby tests in the years leading up to Rugby World Cup 2007.

No such effort has been made from the RFU. For the first time in the professional era the host nation of a Rugby World Cup will go into the tournament without having played in a variety of cities in the years prior to the tournament. Today it has been confirmed that England´s four November 2014 test matches will be played at Twickenham with New Zealand, South Africa, Samoa and Australia set to play in London on November 8, 15, 22 and 29. 

The RFU is the world´s richest rugby union and nor country has more players or referees than England. Manchester will only host one World Cup match and Birmingham two. Since winning the right to host Rugby World Cup 2015 not one home test match has been played outside of Twickenham and the confirmation of the November 2014 test matches ensures that this wll not change before 2015. In 2013 Argentina´s six home tests were in six different cities and the RFU should reconsider the autumn internationals with at least one of the tests being moved outside of London to a stadium set to host matches in Rugby World Cup 2015. instead of capitalizing on the largest pay-out the RFU would be wise to help promote the Rugby World Cup in other parts of the country or it could risk not selling out matches taking place away from Greater London.


  1. As I said in my lasy comment no Union, area or stadium for that matter should have so much control over the game.

    Mayday Paul have you heard the bad news about Figallo?

    Won't be playing on Saturday!

  2. Yes, anonymous you're right, your comment is lazy. This is not about the union having too much control. Heck, if the RFU had more control over the game in their country, rugby in Europe wouldn't be faced with the situation it is now steering down the barrell at thanks to the RFU's lack of leadership and a bunch of arrogant little prats under the guise of premiership rugby.

    What is lacking, apart from leadership in the RFU, is vision. I understand that games at Twickenham means more revenue for them while for example France suffers from being gouged by charges from the French Football Federation every time it uses Saint Denis (and therefore is building its own home stadium near Paris). It's good to have your own stadium and therefore maximise your revenue. BUT! With the 2015RWC coming to your door, you'd think that maybe one of those tests could be at another of the 2015 venues, right?! Surely the game v Samoa could've been taken to St.James where Samoa will have a huge game v Scotland in 2015, or maybe to Birmingham, or Manchester City's ground but I doubt it even appeared on the RFU's radar. And for that, the RFU has shown once again what a poor organisation they are.