NORTHAMPTON Saints chief executive Allan Robson has challenged the Milton Keynes public to prove how much it wants the Rugby World Cup by filling stadium:mk on December 30 for the club’s Aviva Premiership clash with Saracens.
The Saints have filled MK Dons’ home ground for three Heineken Cup matches in recent years – against Munster in January 2012 and against Ulster and Perpignan on the run to the 2011 final – but their next visit to the city will be their first regular league game at stadium:mk
Many of England’s top players will go head-to-head on December 30 – a day after Dons host Coventry City in League 1 – including Ben Foden, Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes for Saints, and Chris Ashton, Owen Farrell and Brad Barritt for Saracens.
And with a host of other international stars from around the world featuring in both squads, the occasion provides the perfect opportunity for Milton Keynes to show the watching public and World Cup organisers that the city is ready to host the Rugby World Cup when it returns to England in 2015.
The stadium was announced on the 17-strong long list of potential venues last month. Those 17 will be whittled down to 12 early next year, and Robson believes that a capacity crowd for the game will be required to convince the tournament organisers that Milton Keynes should win the right to host matches, instead of the likes of Derby, Southampton, Coventry, and Brighton.
He said: “The Rugby World Cup is the world’s third biggest and most prestigious sporting event and the organisers will only host matches in cities where they know that there is an appetite for top level rugby. A full stadium:mk will help tilt the balance in Milton Keynes’ favour.
“The Rugby World Cup shortlist will be announced just a couple of weeks after the game, and I’m sure that no one in Milton Keynes wants to be regretting not showing their support when they had the chance.
“Northampton Saints are working with Milton Keynes Council and MK Dons to try and bring the Rugby World Cup to the area, and the game between Saints and Saracens is a great opportunity for the public to show its appetite and vote for this global competition of top class sport to come to the city.
“The best way of doing that is by filling stadium:mk to capacity. It doesn’t matter who you support – although we want as many people as possible getting behind the Saints, of course – we want to send the message to England Rugby 2015 loud and clear that Milton Keynes is ready and waiting for world class rugby.”
The clash will also see the new indoor arena at stadium:mk open for the first time. Rugby has a big tradition of being a family-friendly sport in which supporters of all clubs mingle before, during and after matches, and the ‘matchday village’ inside the building will give families and friends the perfect opportunity to continue their holiday festivities at a top sporting event.
“It’s going to be a cracking game between two of England’s top clubs,” added Robson. “Saracens have been getting good results this season, while at Saints we believe in playing a brand of exciting, action filled rugby that suits our international players.
“There is nothing like a big rugby game for getting people excited. All of the matches that we have played at stadium:mk have been memorable occasions and December 30 will be no different.”