So many fans find it a struggle to get to Twickenham to watch their national side play Test and international matches, particularly with the rise and rise in the cost of train tickets each year.
Every season England international rugby fixtures are held at Twickenham in greater London at the RFU’s dedicated 82,000-seater stadium.
However, for many fans from the rest of the country the cost of travelling to and from the stadium can be very expensive.
This writer wants the RFU, the sport’s governing body, to consider arranging at least one international fixture every two years outside of Twickenham. This would mean dedicated and devoted fans from the rest of the country are given more opportunities to see their team play.
Moreover, the RFU has often spoken of its desire to promote the game in the north of the country. When England played Uruguay in the last game of their World Cup campaign in 2015, the game was held at Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium, with 50,770 fans attending. This is despite the fact the game was a dead rubber for the national side.
Prior to this, the last England game to be held outside of Twickenham was back in 2009 when England played Argentina at Manchester United’s Old Trafford. Before this, it was 1998 when England faced the Netherlands in a World Cup qualifier in Huddersfield and in 1997 when England faced the All Blacks at Old Trafford.
England is fortunate in having so many quality football and rugby stadia, as evidenced by the successful hosting of the 2015 Rugby World Cup, arguably the greatest edition of the tournament so far. With enormous stadiums in Manchester, Liverpool, Merseyside, Newcastle, Birmingham, Sunderland, Middlesborough, Derby, Leicester, Wolverhampton, Blackburn and onwards, there are so many places for England’s national governing body to choose from.
Although financial concerns are obviously important when arranging Test fixtures, there are literally millions of fans who would love the chance to see their team closer to home. Any cost incurred from moving away from Twickenham would be offset by growing interest in rugby union across the nation, one of the main objectives of the RFU.
The governing body must now do more to ensure fans all over the country are given the best access to watch their national side play.
If you feel strongly that more international games need to be played outside of Twickenham, please sign the petition below and pass it on to your friends and colleagues. Together we can ensure the RFU listens to the fans’ voices.
The petition can be found here.
Paul Wassell, Pundit Arena
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