World Cup hope for Exeter Chiefs
The Rugby World Cup could be coming to the Westcountry.
Sandy Park, home of the Exeter Chiefs, has been identified as one of a number of potential host sites by the competition organisers of the 2015 tournament, which is being staged in England.
Organisers England Rugby 2015 yesterday confirmed the stadium had been added to the list of match venues for the tournament.
Sandy Park, which was built in 2006 at a cost of £15 million, will have an increased capacity by the time the tournament opens.
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Last October, the city council gave the go-ahead to multi-million pound redevelopment plans drawn up by the ambitious Premiership club.
Over the next five years the Chiefs plan to expand the capacity of their ground from 10,744 to 20,600. The redevelopment, which includes three new grandstands and a 1,000-seater auditorium, is expected to cost around £24 million
Club chairman and chief executive Tony Rowe said: "We are delighted to have been confirmed as one of the possible match venues on the long list for Rugby World Cup 2015.
"We see this as not only a fantastic opportunity to showcase our great club to the world's rugby fraternity, but also it provides a wonderful opportunity to bring alive not only the city of Exeter, but also our region which we know offers a significant input into the heartbeat of English rugby.
"This announcement is exciting news not just for rugby followers locally, but for everyone living here in the region.
"We have been working incredibly closely with Exeter City Council in submitting a bid we hope will bring so much to so many people. Our hope now is that we will be among the venues that will be selected for what I know will be a superb Rugby World Cup here in England in 2015."
Debbie Jevans, England Rugby 2015 chief executive, added: "We are very pleased to add Sandy Park to the long list of potential match venues for Rugby World Cup 2015.
"We want to ensure that Rugby World Cup 2015 is a truly national event, and Sandy Park, located in the rugby heartland of the South West, gives us the option to take the tournament as far and wide as possible."
The final list of venues and the match schedule will be published in the next few weeks.
Exeter City Council leader Pete Edwards said: "This is another great opportunity for Exeter to play its part at the heart of the South West in contributing to this exciting world event, and to provide a great welcome to UK and international visitors.
"We are working particularly with Exeter Chiefs to try and secure the final selection of Exeter as one of the host cities for Rugby World Cup 2015, so that millions of people can get at least a glimpse of what the city and its surrounding area can offer."