Saints in Milton Keynes to back World Cup bid

HOME FROM HOME - Saints fans enjoy the action during their side's game against Munster at stadium:mk in January (picture by Linda Dawson)
HOME FROM HOME - Saints fans enjoy the action during their side's game against Munster at stadium:mk in January (picture by Linda Dawson)

Saints are hosting a roadshow in Milton Keynes, backing the city’s bid to host World Cup rugby in 2015.

A selection of Northampton players, including Noah Cato and Luther Burrell, are in attendance at the Centre MK today (Thursday), helping with the promotion of the city’s credentials.

The home of Milton Keynes Dons, stadium:mk, has been named as a potential host venue for the home World Cup.

It was placed on a long list to be considered by England Rugby 2015 as a suitable setting for the competition.

Stadium:mk hosted Saints’ Heineken Cup clashes with Ulster and Perpignan last year and Munster earlier this year.

And it will also be the venue for Saracens’ home clash with Northampton on December 30.

Saints are hoping their home ground, Franklin’s Gardens, which did not meet the criteria to be put on the long list, can be used as a training base, bringing a taste of the World Cup to Northampton.

At the time of Milton Keynes being named among 17 potential host venues, Saints chief executive Allan Robson said: “The Rugby World Cup is a prestigious global sporting event and it is right that England Rugby 2015 demand the highest standard of its stadiums.

“Stadium:mk certainly fits into that category, as we know from our own experiences playing there in the Heineken Cup and setting the venue’s attendance record.

“In an ideal world Franklin’s Gardens would be a host stadium in its own right, but the sheer scale of the Rugby World Cup means that this is not possible. However we do not want our supporters to miss out on having tournament matches within easy reach.

“Should Milton Keynes be accepted as a host venue the stadium:mk management and Milton Keynes Council would work in partnership with the Saints to boost rugby’s profile in the city and deliver outstanding occasions which will live long in the memory.

“We would also use the opportunity to entrench the Saints’ place as the Premiership rugby club for the whole area and bring more people to Northampton to watch some of the best players in England week in, week out.

“We are spending £6 million to expand Franklin’s Gardens and we want those seats to be filled. As part of the bid we are offering to make our state-of-the-art facilities available to teams taking part in the tournament and would seek to host warm-up matches during the summer.

“We also believe that Saints fans will show their support for the Rugby World Cup by providing the core audience for matches that would be held at stadium:mk.

“Hosting the Rugby World Cup does not come around very often and it could easily be 20 years or more before it comes back to England.

“Saints supporters deserve world class international rugby on their doorstep, and we hope that they will join us in getting fully behind the bid.”

The final selection of the 12 host venues will be announced by England Rugby 2015 early next year.