ST. MARY'S has today been confirmed as once of the 17 venues in line to host matches during the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England.
England Rugby 2015, which is organising the tournament, released the list today.
Once the draw for the pool stages has been made, the 17 stadiums will be whittled down to 12, which will host 48 matches between them for the tournament in three years time.
The final list of venues will be known by spring next year.
St. Mary's has long been part of the plans for the World Cup, having first been put forward by former chairman Rupert Lowe when England was bidding to host the competition.
In the last few weeks, Brighton's Amex Stadium has also put itself forward, and is the most likely threat to St. Mary's being included.
As well as choosing the stadiums, ER 2015 will also be choosing the training bases for visiting teams and the locations for fanzones across the country, to play host to some of the 400,000 foreign fans that are expected to come to England for the tournament.
The long list of venues for the Rugby World Cup in 2015:
1. Villa Park, Birmingham
2. Brighton Community Stadium, Brighton
3. Ashton Gate, Bristol
4. Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
5. Coventry Stadium, Coventry
6. Pride Park, Derby
7. Kingsholm, Gloucester
8. Elland Road, Leeds
9. Leicester City Stadium, Leicester
10. Olympic Stadium, London
11. Twickenham Stadium, London
12. Wembley Stadium, London
13. Old Trafford, Manchester
14. Stadiummk, Milton Keynes
15. St James’ Park, Newcastle
16. St Mary’s Stadium, Southampton
17. Stadium of Light, Sunderland
Andy Cosslett, England Rugby 2015 Chairman, commented:“The selection of the long list of potential venues represents an exciting milestone for Rugby World Cup 2015, when fans up and down the country can begin to get excited about the prospect of one of sport’s greatest events coming to their local city or town.
“Our vision for Rugby World Cup 2015 is to ensure that we take this prestigious tournament to as many parts of the country as possible and we believe that the geographical spread of venues selected will enable us to maximise the reach of the tournament. In addition, we will be selecting further venues for training and team base camps that will ensure that the rugby community is at the very heart of Rugby World Cup 2015.
“We will now continue to work extremely closely with the venues, cities and stakeholders, including the Premier League and Football League, to plan the scheduling of matches and city hosting programmes to select a final list of up to 12 venues, which will be agreed by the early part of next year.
“We are confident that with the venues selected we will be able to reach our target of having up to 2.9 million tickets available, opening up the tournament to more people than ever before and in turn delivering the biggest and best Rugby World Cup that there has ever been.
“The process of choosing the long list of venues was very competitive and we would like to thank the venues and cities who we have met for their full co-operation, including the venues not selected, all of whom provided us with their fulsome assistance and information required to make our selection.”
Bernard Lapasset, Rugby World Cup Limited Chairman, said:“Rugby World Cup Limited is delighted with the range of locations and iconic stadia, steeped in sporting folklore, that have been selected as potential Rugby World Cup 2015 match venues. We are very fortunate that England possesses some of the finest sporting venues in the world.
“We have developed a strong working partnership with ER 2015 and planning and preparation continues to advance ahead of schedule. We are sure that this selection of sporting venues will capture the imagination of rugby and sport fans not just in England but all over the world. It is a testament to the strength of the Rugby World Cup brand that there has been such strong interest from a wide range of English cities and venues to host and be a part of the world’s third largest sporting event.
"Indeed, with a little under three years to go until the world's best players and their fans gather in England, we are confident that the eighth chapter in the remarkable Rugby World Cup story will be a wonderful success, and an event that England and the global Rugby family will be proud of."