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The Webb Ellis trophy is displayed ahead of the Rugby World Cup 2015 pool draw.
The Webb Ellis trophy is displayed ahead of the Rugby World Cup 2015 pool draw.

Welsh rugby chiefs launch bid to play key World Cup clashes at Cardiff

The Welsh Rugby Union want to play their 2015 Rugby World Cup pool matches against Australia and hosts England at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium rather than at an English ground.

The Welsh Rugby Union have launched an audacious bid to stage their 2015 World Cup pool matches against host nation England and Australia at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium.

All three countries were drawn together in the toughest pool of the tournament, with the likelihood that they will also be joined by Fiji as Oceania qualifiers.

The Millennium Stadium was included in England's original bid document and debate has raged as to whether Wales should be afforded home advantage for any of their major pool matches.

While England may not play all their pool matches at Twickenham, it seems inconceivable that Stuart Lancaster's men would be ordered to play against Wales in Cardiff.

But tournament organisers England Rugby 2015 have refused to rule out the possibility that the host nation may have to go to Cardiff for a crunch pool fixture.

"It is very important to remember that Wales was included in the England's bid for matches in the Millennium Stadium," said Roger Lewis, chief executive of the WRU.

"What was pencilled in was eight games and the Welsh government and Cardiff city council would provide financial support to the tune of 1.4 million (Dh8.3m)

"The UK treasury supported the underwriting of the competition and of course Wales is still part of the United Kingdom.

"We would be very welcoming hosts. The discussions will now begin.

"I think [England] would embrace the opportunity to play in the finest rugby stadium in the world.

"I think everything must be up for discussion because it is the finest rugby stadium in the world."

The organisers will now spend the next three months piecing together the fixtures and the venues before announcing the final schedule in March. The Millennium Stadium is one of 17 venues on the long list.

"Roger has invited us, which is very kind of him. I am not going to say one way or the other," said Debbie Jevans, chief executive of England Rugby 2015

"At this point I am not ruling anything out an I am not ruling anything in.

"I understand where Roger is coming from. He is pushing for as many games as possible to be in Cardiff. I don't hold that against him.

"Now we know what the draw is we can go away and look at the appropriate venues for the appropriate matches."

The ER2015 board will draw up the final fixture schedule, including the final venues list, which will then be rubber-stamped by Rugby World Cup Ltd.

The ER2015 announcement in March will also include confirmation of the opening fixture, which is likely to be at Twickenham.

Australia, England and Wales will be joined in Pool A by the Oceania qualifiers - strongly favoured to be Fiji - and the repechage winners. In 2011 they were Romania.

South Africa were drawn in Pool B against Samoa, Scotland and the winners of the Asian qualifiers, along with the second place team from the Americas.

Holders New Zealand will face Argentina and Tonga, along with the group winners from Europe and Africa, while France will play Ireland and Italy. Also in their group will be the top side from the Americas group and second place European team.

The tournament gets under way on September 18 2015, with the final held on October 31.

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