Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

ENGLAND'S GREATEST CHANCE TO WIN RUGBY WORLD CUP; RFU CHIEF'S RALLYING CALL AS VENUES NAMED FOR 2015; Ritchie: This Is Our Greatest Opportunity to Rule the World

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

ENGLAND'S GREATEST CHANCE TO WIN RUGBY WORLD CUP; RFU CHIEF'S RALLYING CALL AS VENUES NAMED FOR 2015; Ritchie: This Is Our Greatest Opportunity to Rule the World

Article excerpt

Byline: Chris Jones Rugby Correspondent

ENGLAND are in the best position to win the 2015 World Cup on home soil, the chief executive of the Rugby Football Union said today.

Ian Ritchie's claim came as the 13 venues for the tournament were announced in London.

The final will be at Twickenham on October 31 and Ritchie is confident Stuart Lancaster's side can taste glory for the first time since 2003.

"We have no excuses for not being well prepared and while I am not saying Stuart Lancaster will have an open cheque book, we will invest in the game and the England team because winning the Cup is the ultimate," said Ritchie.

"We need to deliver and we will all be judged on this tournament. We have a unique opportunity with the Cup being played at home and we are doing our ultimate to be in the best position."

There will be 17 matches in London with Twickenham hosting 10, including the opening match, which sees England face a qualifier -- possibly Fiji -- but Wembley will host just two even though it has the biggest capacity of 90,256. Wembley's first game will see the All Blacks play Argentina on September 20 and four days later the defending champions will move to the Olympic Stadium to play a qualifier from Africa.

Major construction work at the Olympic Stadium -- to create a new home for West Ham in 2016 -- will be needed to reduce the capacity from its current 80,000 to 54,000 and tournament organisers are confident the venue will be ready.

England Rugby 2015 chief executive Debbie Jevans said: "It won't be a building site and the roof will be in place. They are installing a Desso pitch similar to Twickenham and the programme for the work is in place. There were some complexities to be sorted out including West Ham's decision but all of those conversations have taken place."

The Olympic Stadium was chosen to ensure the event generates the [pounds sterling]80million guarantee demanded by the International Rugby Board.

With Wembley contracted to the NFL in October, that limited the number of games that could be held there. Therefore, tournament organisers needed another major stadium to add to their list and have thrashed out an agreement with the Olympic Stadium that could also see England play a warm-up match to act as a test event. …

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