Moving on from the real rugby grounds, we come to a couple of so-called “multipurpose venues”, by which they mean they’ll put on anything for lots of people if you’ve got enough of the folding stuff.
London, 90,000 capacity, grass/synthetic hybrid
Not the actual stadium that old fellas remember as the site of the 1966 Football World Cup, the 1948 Olympic closing ceremony, and the brilliant FA Cup finals back when it was a proper working-class game. That stadium was demolished in 2003 and replaced by the modern version amidst many complaints, controversy, cost overruns and court cases.
The surface of the new pitch, opened in 2007, was heavily criticised, and was replaced eight times before they got the hint and went for a grass/synthetic hybrid in 2010. Things seem to have gone better since then, except for complaints in late 2014. It also has a semi-moving roof.
Your best pub trivia fact about the stadium: it has 2,618 toilets, which is said to be more than any other stadium in the world. (Cue joke: maybe that’s why the English football team play like …)
This is the largest-capacity venue for the World Cup, and it gets 2 games:
- New Zealand vs. Argentina (Pool C, 3.45am Monday 21 September NZST)
- Ireland vs. Romania (Pool D, 4.45am Monday 28 September NZDT)
The All Blacks – Puma match is the one that should determine who finishes first and who second in the Pool.
London, 54,000 capacity, grass
Well, that’s the official title, but everyone calls it Olympic Stadium. Or the Big Fat White Elephant, or something.
Built for the 2012 Olympics, it is now being ripped apart and remade into a home for West Ham United to be opened in 2016. It’s being re-opened just for five matches of the Rugby World Cup, so what could possibly go wrong?
- France vs Romania (Pool D, 7.00am Thursday 24 September NZST)
- New Zealand vs. Namibia (Pool C, 7.00am Friday 25 September NZST)
- Ireland vs. Italy (Pool D, 4.45am Monday 5 October NZDT)
- South Africa vs. USA (Pool B, 4.45am Thursday 8 October NZDT)
- Bronze Final, SF1 Loser vs SF2 Loser (9.00am Saturday 31 October NZDT)
To put that All Blacks match into context, that’s like filling Eden Park, for a match against Namibia. And you can still buy a ticket for just £175 to watch a match happening somewhere beyond the running track. Imagine.
A note on the dates/times given:
I have used timeanddate.com to convert the local kick-off times into the New Zealand time. It’s a bit of a schemozzle because New Zealand Daylight Saving Time begins at 2.00am on Sunday 27 September and British Summer Time ends at 2.00am on Sunday 25 October. Oy.
If you’re living somewhere else, I strongly recommend that you do your own conversion starting with the official fixture list from RWC2015.