Thursday, August 21, 2014

International Rugby: Canada v Namibia moved to Northern Wales

Photo Rugby Canada
Less than twelve months before Rugby World Cup 2015 is completed an international match featuring two of the tournament's twenty participants will be played in the northern Welsh city of Colwyn Bay. The updated  Tier Two fixture list for the month of November 2014 sees Canada v Namibia being confirmed for Colwyn Bay, a city located outside of the rugby heartlands of Wales and one lacking size and far from being easily accessible. The inappropriate venue has previously hosted international rugby but not test matches involving Wales. While Wales will host eight Rugby World Cup 2015 matches Colwyn Bay will host none.  

Canada's second of four matches in November will be played in Colwyn Bay it was confirmed earlier today. The Canadians will play in the Welsh town, with a population of just 29,000, on November 7 some five days after playing a non-international against an RFU Championship invitational XV in Worcester, England. With the third fixture being played against Samoa in Vannes, France rugby authorities have decided against utilizing the matches featuring Rugby World Cup 2015 participants at venues set to host games during the World Cup. 

During Rugby World Cup 2015 Canada is to play in the English cities of Leeds, Milton Keynes and Leicester while Namibia will do so in Exeter, Leicester and London. With Canada and Namibia facing each other in the U.K. this coming November authorities therefore had a unique opportunity of preparing a host city for the World Cup by having Canada v Namibia take place at a 2015 venue.

Yet rather than having one of the small - medium sized venues at Exeter, Milton Keynes or Leicester host the fixture it will be played in Wales, in the small town of Colwyn Wales in the north-west, located far away from where rugby has a strong profile. With a capacity of 6,000 Eirias Park will host the match, a decision likely to only be received well by the local population.

It is a continuation of cost-cutting measures from the IRB to balance the problem of non-European teams playing test rugby during the end of year tours every November and finding a union willing to host the matches. In this instance the Welsh Rugby Union, who have access to the venue owned by the Borough Council, will be doing so. The venue hosted the USA v Russia, Canada v Samoa, the USA v Tonga, and Canada v Russia in 2012 in addition to Russia v Japan in 2013. In 2013 the USA spoke out against Colwyn Bay and instead faced Russia in northern London.

The Canada v Namibia fixture is to be just the second ever time the countries have met at international level. The previous match took place in 1999 as part of the Rugby World Cup hosted by Wales. Canada won the fixture 72-11 in what was the biggest Canadian victory in a World Cup match. Despite it being Wales' World Cup the match was played in Toulouse, France and Canada, in fact, never played a match in Wales.

Sixteen years on England's World Cup is to again see matches played outside of the official host nation.  Wales will host eight matches despite the IRB having made it clear that it wanted England to host every match. The extent of the controversy is such that Wales will be hosting matches for a fourth time after doing so during Rugby World Cups and 1991, 1999 and, 2007. Canada will open its campaign with a match  against Ireland in Cardiff on September 19 2015.

Argentina 2023 can offer an end to the disorganized Rugby World Cups held in Europe every eight years. Should the Americas be allocated hosting rights for the first time ever Argentina could host the tournament alone. The country has no shortage of large cities with adequate stadiums to host the World Cup on its own. It also hosts incoming test matches throughout the country. In 2014 Argentina's six home test matches see Córdoba, La Plata, Mendoza, Resistencia, Salta and Tucumán hosting one test each.

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