TOP class rugby could be coming to Milton Keynes after stadium:mk was listed among the potential candidates to host World Cup matches in 2015.
After being named as one of the 10 stadia in the running to hold fixtures should England win the football World Cup in 2018, Pete Winkelman’s dream of holding international sport in the city could still become a reality after the list of grounds was unveiled on Monday.
And stadium:mk is well aware of how to put on a rugby match or two – Northampton Saints have used the ground three times to play their Heineken Cup fixtures, while Saracens have also called Milton Keynes their home once in 2008.
The 17 grounds on the ‘long list’ for 2015 will now be evaluated further before the final list of 12 is revealed in spring 2013.
Councillor Andrew Geary, Leader of Milton Keynes Council, said: “We are delighted to be included on the long list by England Rugby 2015 and we aim to deliver Rugby World Cup 2015 to the world.
“This is another opportunity to demonstrate what a great city this is to the widest possible audience.”
MK Dons chairman Winkelman said: “It is a fantastic achievement to have been recognised alongside some of the most prestigious sporting stadia in this country.
“As we have seen in recent years, stadium:mk is a magnificent venue and it ticks all the boxes for international rugby.
“Our open concourse is used to its full potential and our excellent sight line combined with the tight proximity to the pitch creates a very special atmosphere.
“We have already received excellent support from our local rugby clubs, Northampton Saints and Milton Keynes Council, and together with the help of Milton Keynes we will strive to ensure stadium:mk is at the forefront of England Rugby 2015’s plans.”
Andy Cosslett, England Rugby 2015 Chairman, commented: “The selection of the long list of potential venues represents an exciting milestone for Rugby World Cup 2015, when fans up and down the country can begin to get excited about the prospect of one of sport’s greatest events coming to their local city or town.
“Our vision for Rugby World Cup 2015 is to ensure that we take this prestigious tournament to as many parts of the country as possible and we believe that the geographical spread of venues selected will enable us to maximise the reach of the tournament.
“In addition, we will be selecting further venues for training and team base camps that will ensure that the rugby community is at the very heart of Rugby World Cup 2015.
“We will now continue to work extremely closely with the venues, cities and stakeholders, including the Premier League and Football League, to plan the scheduling of matches and city hosting programmes to select a final list of up to 12 venues, which will be agreed by the early part of next year.
“We are confident that with the venues selected we will be able to reach our target of having up to 2.9 million tickets available, opening up the tournament to more people than ever before and in turn delivering the biggest and best Rugby World Cup that there has ever been.”