RFU insists England will seek home Cup comforts

Ritchie set to stand against Welsh 'offer' to play key 2015 match across the border

Ian Ritchie did his level best to appear grateful for the offer from the far side of the Severn Bridge, but the chief executive of the Rugby Football Union never quite managed to look like a man who had stayed awake all night wondering whether to accept such lavish Welsh largesse. Quizzed on whether England would contemplate ceding home advantage to their sworn enemy when the two countries meet in a pool match at the 2015 World Cup, he answered with a question of his own – and a very good question it was too.

"Why would we want to do that?" he asked, not unreasonably, during a discussion on the ramifications of Monday's tournament draw, which placed England, the hosts, in a horrible pool with Wales and Australia, the two-time champions. "I must make it clear that it's not my decision, but I'd like to think the games against Wales and the Wallabies will be played at Twickenham. Shock, horror and astonishment that I should suggest such a thing!"

It was Ritchie's opposite number at the Welsh governing body, Roger Lewis, who provocatively proposed that the not-so-neighbourly derby contest should be played in Cardiff, on the grounds that the Millennium Stadium, guaranteed to be on the list of venues despite standing on non-English soil, "is the best rugby stadium in the world". Somehow, the RFU boss did not seem wholly convinced by the argument. "It's very nice of Wales to ask us over, but we feel that with a £76m investment going into our own modest little stadium, we might make Twickenham a decent spot for a game of rugby."

Barbed witticisms aside, Ritchie did acknowledge that there were difficult fixture-scheduling decisions ahead for England Rugby 2015, the delivery body set up to bring the third biggest sporting event in the world to fruition. As the RFU included the Millennium Stadium on its roster largely for economic reasons – charged with attracting average gates of almost 60,000 across 48 matches to meet financial targets, the governing body was rather taken with the idea of a series of 75,000 sell-outs – it will have to offer the Welsh something more than a home game against a low-profile qualifier.

"The economic side of the tournament is highly important," Ritchie said, "but it is also true that in 2015, we will have a unique opportunity –an opportunity that arises once in a generation – to grow the game in England, to inspire people across the country to participate in rugby. It's a very complex matrix we're looking at here; it's multi-faceted stuff.

"If we move games away from Twickenham, how will that work out in terms of financial returns? What will the England coaches think about such a decision? All these things will have to be considered, so it's good that we don't need to decide today or tomorrow. We have space for proper reflection."

If including the Millennium Stadium on the venue list seemed like a good idea at the time, the view in some quarters has changed now that Sod's Law has had its wicked way by joining England and Wales together at the competitive hip.

With high-capacity grounds like Twickenham, Wembley, Old Trafford and, in all probability, the Olympic Stadium in the mix, was the Cardiff option now being seen as a mistake? Ritchie was not in the mood for such an admission.

"I won't speculate on hypotheticals going backwards and you wouldn't expect me to," he said, uncomfortably aware that the Australian squad will be every bit as apoplectic as the red-rose contingent if they find themselves participating in what amounts to a Welsh home game. "We are where we are."

The chief executive did, however, confess that at this stage, he had no clue as to how the delicate task of matching fixtures to venues without causing diplomatic incidents at every turn might be accomplished.

He was on far happier ground talking about the national team's record-breaking victory over the All Blacks last weekend – a performance that confirmed him in his belief, if confirmation were needed, that the right people were in charge of the show. Ritchie is awaiting a report on the structure of the RFU's elite rugby department, written by Sir Ian McGeechan of Lions coaching fame and Peter Keen, the former head of UK Sport, but does not expect any nasty surprises.

"If there are good, radical suggestions, I won't hold back," he said, "but I really don't think we're in that kind of place. Do we need major heart surgery? I think the patient performed pretty well on Saturday. We had the same players, the same coaches and the same processes in place against the All Blacks as we had at the start of the autumn. Were those processes capable of delivering? Palpably, the answer was 'yes'."

The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
newsPiece of Charles and Diana's wedding cake sold at auction in US
James Argent from Towie is missing, police say
newsTV star had been reported missing
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Winchester College Football (universally known as Winkies) is designed to make athletic skill all but irrelevant
Life...arcane public school games explained
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
Life and Style
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone