Home from home: Team Base search underway
Rugby World Cup 2015 will deliver a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle to fans across England, with the world’s finest players also set for a special welcome. Alongside the last-gasp victories, memorable moments of skill and pyrotechnics that will accompany the tournament, Rugby also has a chance to reach out into communities up and down the country. Team bases will do just that, bring all the participating teams to locations all across England and Wales, and England Rugby 2015 are now in search of the best possible facilities, following confirmation of the match venues and match schedule last week.
A team base consists of five core components: team hotel, outdoor training venues, indoor venue, gym and swimming pool. England Rugby 2015 will consider a variety of locations for team bases; both in and around host cities where match venues are located, in neighbouring towns and cities, and much further afield, to provide teams with a variety of training environments and locations.
Team bases will become a home from home for players and support staff, providing not only excellent preparation but also a window into England’s rugby culture. With 20 participating teams and 500,000 overseas fans expected to land in September 2015, there will certainly be plenty of opportunities to get involved with the tournament, from engagement opportunities in the community to taking in a match.
Rugby World Cup 2015 will leave behind indelible memories, as every edition of the tournament has to date, but plans are also in place to ensure that its influence is felt at every level of the sport. The team bases will play an important role in ensuring that this happens. Along with a big lift in profile for the facilities and towns that host teams, there is scope for rugby to lay down some roots and increase participation.
On team bases, England Rugby 2015 Chief Executive Debbie Jevans said: “Team bases will play a key role at Rugby World Cup 2015 and we are determined to provide players and management with the very best environment in which to train and prepare. England has a fantastic range of high class sports, conference and accommodation facilities and we are delighted to launch this process with a view to setting a new benchmark for Rugby World Cup team base standards.
“Rugby World Cup is the showpiece for the Game and will attract vast numbers of domestic fans, as well as an anticipated 500,000 visitors into the UK. Becoming a team base will provide facilities with a unique opportunity to be part of this global event and give the local community access to the tournament.”
Right across England there are rugby hotbeds, from the midlands to the west country, via the north east and north west, and plenty of supporters eager to play a part in welcoming the sport’s elite. There are also plenty of budding rugby strongholds that could use a little help in spreading the word. This is where Rugby World Cup 2015 can really make a mark on a community level.
Jason Leonard, England’s most-capped player and a Rugby World Cup-winner in 2003, believes that the tournament can help to boost the sport across the board. Having played in a Rugby World Cup Final on home soil in 1991 the former prop hopes to see the sport’s values spread further than ever before.
“Having a World Cup in your backyard, you can’t really underestimate the power of that,” he said. “In 1991 we got to a World Cup Final and the public’s perception changed almost overnight. In 2015, we will be at home again and I think it will be our best opportunity. It’s a great game for all shapes and sizes, it doesn’t matter where you come from.
“I’ve got friends that I played rugby with at school, I still catch up with them. That’s what rugby brings, there is camaraderie. It’s a fantastic sport and hopefully we can open that up to a number of new players. Not only new players, but volunteers as well. They have a very important part to play in our Game; the guy who cuts the grass at your local rugby pitch, the old girl that makes the teas at half-time. They give up their time for nothing, just because they love the sport. We want to create a base that gets bigger and bigger and bigger.”
By embracing touring teams, fans can create something special when the tournament kicks off. At Rugby World Cup 2007 in France, supporters banded together to follow sides based in their area and generated some of the most memorable atmospheres in the competition’s history. The same was true in New Zealand in 2011, when team bases played an important role in delivering on the organisers’ promise of a ‘stadium of four million’.
England now has its chance to write a chapter in rugby history. The team bases will provide top-notch training facilities for every team at Rugby World Cup 2015, while the communities that surround them will be able to roll the welcome mat out and ensure that visiting players and supporters leave with an experience they won’t forget.
For more information on team bases and for those parties wishing to host teams, please click here