Olympic Park to host five 2015 Rugby World Cup matches
PUBLISHED: 14:20 02 May 2013 | UPDATED: 14:20 02 May 2013
PA Wire/Press Association Images
The Olympic Stadium is to host five matches at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, it has been announced.
Being picked as one of 13 venues in England and Wales for the 2015 Rugby World Cup is a “major vote of confidence in the stadium, Transport for London and the people of east London who successfully hosted the world last summer” at the London 2012 Games, London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) chief executive Dennis Hone said.
The stadium in Stratford, east London, which was built at a capacity of 80,000 for the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, will be a 54,000-seater venue for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
It will host pool games involving South Africa, New Zealand and France as well as hosting the match between Ireland and Italy on October 4.
The bronze match on October 30 will also be played at the Olympic Stadium.
It comes after a deal was struck by the LLDC and the east London borough of Newham, in which the stadium is based, for some matches to be played at the venue.
England Rugby 2015 and the International Rugby Board (IRB), rugby union’s international governing body, were “working closely” with the LLDC to make it happen, according to London mayor Boris Johnson.
Twickenham will host the opening match of the 20-team event on September 18, with England taking on the winner of the Oceania qualifying competition.
Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, Kingsholm in Gloucester and Exeter’s Sandy Park are the only other rugby venues.
Eight football stadiums, including Wembley, St James’ Park, Elland Road, the Etihad and Villa Park will be used.
Tickets for the 48-match tournament will go on sale next year.
It means that London has three venues - Twickenham, Wembley and the Olympic Stadium - which will stage a total of 17 matches at the tournament.
Mr Johnson described it as “cracking news for the city” adding that it was “hugely important that we found a way of securing matches at the Olympic Stadium”.
He said: “Playing host to so many games in this international sporting thriller is yet another feather in London’s cap, showing that when it comes to hosting elite fixtures, our city is a world beater.”
Newham, who have part ownership of the Olympic Stadium, will set up a special fan zone for residents and visitors to watch the action when world champions New Zealand and teams from France, South Africa, Ireland and Italy, among others, play at the stadium during September and October 2015.
It may feature big screens, live entertainment and opportunities to try out local food, culture and music in an attempt to “create a festival atmosphere”, according to Newham mayor Sir Robin Wales.
Newham Council chief executive Kim Bromley-Derry said: “We have invested £40 million to ensure a lasting legacy for the stadium.
“Hosting major sporting events like Rugby World Cup 2015 will help us to achieve that.
“It is another opportunity for Newham to be part of a huge international event, show the best that we have to offer, inspire our community and boost the local economy and job creation.”