World Cup year so important for Rugby in England
5 February 2015
Posted by on
I’ve taken a month away from blogging but travelling on the train to Cardiff for the opening game of the Six Nations seems like a good time to restart.
The Rugby World Cup will kick off at Twickenham in 225 days or in a little over seven months’ time. The preparations are well on the way with The Pack, the RWC volunteer force, selected, venues and team bases selected and most of the match tickets sold. Now efforts are turning towards training up The Pack, host cities are putting together their plans to welcome fans from all over the world and stopping points for the 100 day long Trophy tour are being finalised.
Clubs are being encouraged to get their own plans together to Get Behind England by dressing up their clubhouses for the warm up games and for the tournament itself. The RFU is investing £10m as part of a Lead Up & Legacy strategy by getting more coaches and referees qualified, upgrading social spaces in clubs upgraded and encouraging members of The Pack that aren’t members of a rugby club to get involved locally.
But how much of the expected surge in interest in Rugby in the community is dependant on English success on the pitch? England have the strength in depth and the quality to fulfil my prediction of reaching the final, probably against the All Blacks, but just having the World Cup in England should be enough to encourage players to get their boots back on and turn out for their college, university or club.
But before that there is the matter of getting through the Six Nations. England’s injury list is alarmingly long but despite missing so many players, the squad selected for the game at the Millennium Stadium on Friday is still remarkably strong, and the centre partnership of Burrell and Joseph looks very good, even though you could argue they have been picked by default. I was at the game in Cardiff two years ago when the atmosphere and passionate support was worth two extra men on the Welsh side, but you would think that England will know what to expect this time.
Whatever the result on Friday, it will count for nothing when the two sides meet at Twickenham on 26 September, but if England can select from an injury free list of players, you would have to make them favourites with home advantage.