Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Ritchie Laughs off Cheeky Bid by Wales to Snatch Cup Clash

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Ritchie Laughs off Cheeky Bid by Wales to Snatch Cup Clash

Article excerpt

Byline: Chris Jones Rugby Correspondent

ENGLISH rugby chiefs offered a polite "thanks but no thanks" after Wales attempted to hijack the 2015 World Cup pool matches by making the Millennium Stadium a major focal point for the tournament.

England are the host country but relied upon strong Welsh support to land the tournament and now Roger Lewis, the Welsh Rugby Union chief executive, is calling in the favour, claiming up to eight matches could be played in Wales.

Lewis was clearly mischief making after the World Cup draw put England, Wales and Australia together in the "Group of Death" -- Pool A along with two other teams, one likely to be Fiji. He suggested England could play Wales at the Millennium Stadium because it is one of the "finest" in the world.

However, Ian Ritchie, the RFU chief executive, today confirmed that Twickenham will stage that match with Wales having to settle for a key game against Australia, who will be in the unusual position of lining up against two "home" teams in their pool games.

"We are going to keep those pool matches -- shock, horror!" said Ritchie.

England will want a major input into the opening game on September 18 as there are varying options open to the hosts. They could push for an easy start against the winner of the play-off system or opt to begin with the dangerous Fiji or even Wales or Australia.

The final decision about which stadia will host pool matches will be announced in March with England RWC 2015 chief executive Debbie Jevans admitting she will be receiving messages from various competing nations asking for particular scenarios.

Jevans said: "At this point I am not ruling anything out and I am not ruling anything in. Wales have invited England to Cardiff along with various matches. Roger [Lewis] is pushing for as many games as possible and I understand where he is coming from. …

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