SAINTS will find out next month whether their St Mary’s stadium has been chosen as one of the 2015 Rugby Union World Cup’s venues.
St Mary’s was one of 12 grounds across England and Wales named in the RFU bid which was successful back in the summer of 2009, having been out forward early on in the bid process by former chairman Rupert Lowe.
England beat off competition from Japan, France and South Africa to land the tournament for the first time since the early 1990s.
The RFU haven’t yet decided, though, which stadiums will definitely host World Cup games.
That decision comes next month, and Saints will now face competititon from one of their south coast football rivals.
Brighton & Hove Albion are keen to host games at their Amex Stadium facility, which was opened in the summer of 2011.
Rugby chiefs have already been to the Seagulls’ stadium to see what the venue - which will have a capacity of 30,750 by the time the World Cup kicks off in September 2015 - has to offer.
Organisers meanwhile, are considering making England play one of the matches in the 2015 World Cup away from Twickenham.
The organising committee for the competition, England Rugby 2015 (ER 2015) are determined to take the event across the country.
They have set their sights on taking the host nation up to a big stadium in the north for one of their warm-up games, or even a group match.
“Those are options that are under consideration and are being discussed with the RFU,” ER 2015 chairman Andy Cosslett said.
“There is a tremendous appetite for making sure this World Cup gets to as many corners of the country as we can take it.
“Taking it out of the traditional rugby strongholds, where we are fighting the battle against Premier League football teams, is a priority.”
Next month a 20-strong long list of potential stadia will be whittled down to between 10 and 12 for the tournament.
Concerns have been raised that too much emphasis is being placed on hitting a £100 million profit target by taking the matches to bigger-capacity football stadia like Old Trafford, Elland Road and Villa Park.
Only two rugby club grounds, Leicester’s Welford Road and Gloucester’s Kingsholm Stadium, were included in the original bid for the competition due to the low capacity of other top-flight rugby stadia.
ER 2015 chief operating officer Ross Young tried to play down fears the traditional heartlands of rugby were being overlooked, but conceded that any stadium used must be able to help deliver the body’s overall target of raising £100 million.
He said: “There is always a desire to include at least one rugby club, but it all has got to fit properly.
“You have to put the right games in the right venues.”
Saints will soon find out if they are one of the right venues.
Potential Venues for the 2015 Rugby World Cup: