Wales will play two of their group stage matches at the 2015 Rugby World Cup at the Millennium Stadium, it is reported today.
Wales’ fixtures against the two yet-to-be-decided qualifiers in their group are expected to be scheduled for Cardiff when the fixtures are announced later this week.
There has been controversy over the WRU’s efforts to have Wales matches held at their home stadium during the England-hosted tournament, but the withdrawal of Old Trafford from the pool of grounds has strengthened the case for the Millennium Stadium to be used, the Guardian reported
The loss of the 76,000 capacity home of Manchester United has persuaded tournament organisers of the need for bumper crowds at other games.
It is believed holding two Wales pool games at the Millennium Stadium – even against lesser opposition – would guarantee a pair of sell-out matches.
After the World Cup draw last year, WRU chief executive Roger Lewis offered the use of the Cardiff stadium for Wales’ match against England, but the cheeky bid was rejected by the RFU.
Wales’ group games against Australia and England will be held across the border, with the two other pool matches – one of which is likely to be against Fiji – to be held in Wales.
There also remains a possibility the Millennium Stadium could be used for two quarter-finals.
Organisers had hoped two use Wembley for two matches, and Twickenham for the two others.
But an agreement to hold an NFL game at the home of English football will mean it can only be used for pool stage matches.
As well as being financially attractive, use of the Millennium Stadium would help tournament officials keep guarantees made about attendance levels, but would not be in the spirit of a promise to take matches out of England and Wales’ rugby heartlands.
The final list of venues is expected to be announced on Thursday.
An England Rugby 2015 spokeswoman said: “This is all speculation at the moment – nothing is finalised until the IRB has approved the list of venues and the match schedule, and we are still going through that approval process.”