Brighton set to break new ground in 2015

(ER 2015) Thursday 6 June 2013
Brighton set to break new ground in 2015
The Brighton Community Stadium will host its first-ever rugby Test match at RWC 2015

Opened in July 2011, the Brighton Community Stadium has quickly become widely admired in the football world. With a capacity just north of 30,000, the home of Brighton & Hove Albion is one of the leading examples of modern stadiums in England and a welcoming venue for top-class events.

The stadium will host two matches at Rugby World Cup 2015, with two-time champions South Africa and Samoa touching down for Pool B meetings with the Asia 1 and Americas 2 qualifiers respectively.

The stadium had its first taste of competitive action with the staging of the Sussex Senior Cup in 2011 and has become a welcome home for the Seagulls after a number of nomadic years. Under coach Gustavo Poyet they have become a force in football’s Championship, with their home support passionate and proud of their new surroundings.

Visiting supporters can expect a free-flowing game on the stadium’s state-of-the-art pitch, while the city’s rugby fans will also be out in force to show their heritage. Brighton produced an England international, the forward James Body, as long ago as 1872, while records show a club side from the city touring France in 1902 - including a match against Parisian aristocrats Stade Francais.

A dash of international competition was added to the city’s charm in 1974, when a touring Italy side were defeated 16-7 by Sussex in Brighton, although South Africa’s visit to the south coast will be a historic first Test match for the area.

England Rugby 2015 Ambassador Maggie Alphonsi stopped by the stadium following the venue announcement and was impressed by what she saw. One of England’s finest players, the flanker played a home Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2010 and expects a rousing reception for every team when the action gets underway in 2015.

“What I’m really pleased about in terms of Rugby World Cup 2015 is that all the venues are dotted around the country, it’s going to engage the nation,” she said. “It doesn’t matter where you are in England, you’ll have an opportunity to get involved with the sport and the tournament itself.”

With the matches set to be staged on back-to-back evenings in September, Brighton has a real chance to showcase the atmosphere that has won so many fans since the move to their new stadium. Rugby World Cup 2015 represents a rare opportunity for host cities to showcase international sport and also for rugby to reach out into uncharted waters. Brighton’s rugby fans are in for a treat.