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Lewis's delight after Wales bag eight World Cup games

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: May 03, 2013

By MARK ORDERS

TIME FOR REVENGE?  Kurtley Beale scores a late try in the last game between Wales and Australia.

TIME FOR REVENGE? Kurtley Beale scores a late try in the last game between Wales and Australia.

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ROGER Lewis declared that Wales had netted some "jewels" after the Millennium Stadium was chosen to host eight fixtures at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

The matches include two quarter-finals and two of the pool matches that Warren Gatland's side will play.

But look closely and the schedule isn't all sparkle for Welsh eyes.

For a start, group rivals England will have an eight-day turnaround before they face Wales at Twickenham, while Gatland's team will have just six days to recover from their group opener. In what is likely to prove a tight group, with Australia also featuring, stuff like that matters.

Wales will face two qualifying teams at the Millennium Stadium but will face Australia at Twickenham, as well as England, the Welsh Rugby Union having failed with their audacious attempt to play the old enemy in Cardiff in their own World Cup.

"I put a little bid in for the England game, but I lost that one," revealed Lewis, the union's chief executive.

"This is England's World Cup, after all.

"Yes, of course, we would have loved to have had that Australia match as well.

"But we have eight games here and two home games.

"I discussed the possibility of where we could play the Australia match with Warren Gatland and he said: 'I'd play them anywhere'.

"We are just thrilled. Eight games here at the stadium is fantastic and our cup is running over.

"Of course, we would have loved Australia, but we can't be greedy."

Cardiff has bagged eight games as the Rugby Football Union need to utilise the Millennium Stadium to help them repay their £80 million guarantee to the International Rugby Board and sell the required £2.9 million tickets.

Nonetheless, eyebrows have been raised at the distribution of matches, with two cities, London and Cardiff, hosting 26 of the 48 games and just six matches being played north of Leicester.

Of the matches at the Millennium Stadium, a major draw will be France v Ireland, one of the most attractive fixtures in the group phase, while New Zealand will take on a European qualifier at the venue.

Acclaiming the number of games Wales had landed, Lewis said: "This is a great day for Wales, a great day for Welsh rugby.

"It's the culmination of over four years of work. To have eight games coming here to the Millennium Stadium as part of the in 2015 World Cup is an incredible achievement.

"And within those eight games, we've got some jewels.

"Two quarter-finals, two home matches featuring Wales, but we'll also welcome New Zealand, France, Ireland and Australia here to Cardiff, along with Georgia, most probably Fiji and Namibia.

"It's going to be an absolute festival of rugby here in Cardiff and we are thrilled.

"It's a huge tribute to everyone who has supported this bid."

Home advantage has understandably been exploited to the full, with England playing all but one of their group games at Twickenham, but Wales will hope for good support at the venue themselves when they take on Australia there.

Because of the desperate need to attract big attendances, only two traditional club rugby grounds have been given games — Exeter's Sandy Park and Gloucester's Kingsholm.

Lewis believes the Millennium Stadium will do justice to every games it hosts.

He added: "It's a fantastic tribute that the organisers of Rugby World Cup have chosen the Millennium Stadium, a fantastic tribute to this iconic venue, which is voted regularly the best rugby venue in the whole of the world.

"The fans from across the world just love coming to the Millennium Stadium.

"Also the players love playing here, the intimacy, the passion. When the roof is closed, the place is absolutely buzzing.

"The world wants to share that."

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  • Spideyjonesy  |  May 03 2013, 10:41AM

    so we don;t get either of the two big games? we had no chance of getting england and to bid forthat game was silly but we should have secured home advantage for the aussie game and the failure to do so could cost us a quarter final place poor show Mr Lewis and you know it!

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