England and Wales at war over Group of Death venue

Welsh demand Cardiff showdown as rivals drawn together in 2015 World Cup pool

It was written in the stars in filthy great capital letters; Stuart Lancaster, the coach of the moment after the red-rose victory over the All Blacks at the weekend, used the word "fate" – and sure enough, it came to pass. England, hosts of the next World Cup in 2015, found themselves paired with Wales at the tournament draw in London, thanks in part to a politician by the name of Boris Johnson, and as a result, the organisers were left with the most painful of headaches.

Roger Lewis, the chief executive of the Welsh Rugby Union, ratcheted things up immediately by calling for the big contest to be staged at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. "We would be very welcoming hosts," he said, mischievously, "so let the discussions begin." And why, in his wildest dreams, would he expect England to put their home campaign in peril by giving up home advantage against such dangerous opponents? "I'd like to think they'll embrace the opportunity to play the match at the finest rugby stadium in the world," Lewis replied.

Debbie Jevans, the recently-appointed chief executive of the 2015 delivery body and the woman who drew England alongside Wales in a group also featuring a half-decent side in the double world champions Australia, said no venue decisions would be made before March. She added, however, that nothing had been ruled out. For the moment at least, there remains a possibility that all roads will lead to the Welsh capital for the most eagerly anticipated game of the pool stage.

According to Lewis, a maximum of eight games will be played at the Millennium Stadium, which has a 74,000-plus capacity and is on the roster because the Rugby Football Union needs to shift 2.9m tickets across 48 games – or to put it another way, attract an average gate of almost 60,000 – in order to meet some very demanding financial targets. As Australia would be most reluctant to play Wales anywhere to the west of the Severn, on the grounds that it is not a Welsh World Cup, it is not wholly out of the question that England will be asked to travel to Cardiff for business reasons.

If it does not turn out that way, the Wales coach, Warren Gatland, will be anything but heartbroken. "We've had some success at Twickenham," he said confidently in reacting to the draw. "It's not a venue that holds fears for us. What do I think of the group? I think it's fantastic. It's a tough pool, but sometimes that helps in a World Cup campaign. If you look at New Zealand's record in global tournaments, a soft pool has sometimes been their undoing because they haven't been tested enough by the time they reach the knockout phase."

Johnson, the mayor of London, was the man who placed Wales in Pool A, having celebrated the prospect of a seven-week union jamboree by poking fun at the "namby-pamby spheroid fetishists" of the football community. It was the most controversial comment of the event until Lewis made his bold pitch for the cross-Severn derby fixture.

If Pool A will be by some distance the most brutally competitive group – the fourth-ranked side will almost certainly be Fiji, who know what it is to upset the applecart at these global gatherings – Scotland's representatives were not wildly joyous at the prospect of facing South Africa, always a major World Cup force, and the fast-improving Samoans in Pool B. The Pacific islanders are currently seventh in the international rankings, five places higher than the Scots.

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies