Leeds set to add dash of passion to RWC 2015
Rugby World Cup 2015 is heading to Yorkshire, where it will set down in the surrounds of Elland Road in Leeds.
The football ground will host two matches at the tournament, with Italy taking on the Americas 1 qualifier and Scotland up against the Americas 2 qualifier. The city can expect plenty of colour as travelling fans descend for the matches, while visitors will be welcomed to one of England’s true sporting hotbeds.
Leeds United have called Elland Road home since their formation in 1919, with England also utilising the stadium for friendlies in 1995 and 2002. The stadium has also been called into action as a neutral ground on a number of occasions for FA Cup semi-finals.
While football is the order of the day at Elland Road, Leeds is very much a multi-sport city. Headingley is one of English sport’s most famous names, with the cricket ground hosting England Test matches and the adjacent rugby stadium playing host to both codes, with Leeds Carnegie and Leeds Rhinos sharing stewardship.
Formed in 1991, Leeds Carnegie came into being following a merger of the Headingley and Roundhay clubs. Sir Ian McGeechan, one of Scotland’s finest centres and one of the men most closely-associated with the British & Irish Lions as both player and coach, was born in Leeds and played his club rugby for Headingley.
Leeds has also been part of the English rugby establishment since the early years of the sport. While Elland Road will host its first Test match when Rugby World Cup 2015 gets underway, the city was a regular haunt for England during the Game’s formative years.
In 1884, England defeated Wales at Cardigan Fields and nine years later, at Headingley, the home side were on the receiving end as Scotland won 8-0. In the last Test staged in Leeds to date, Ireland were victorious at Meanwood Road in 1896. Elland Road does have one union match to remember, a tour game between the 1992 Springboks and the North of England.
One man who will be particularly happy to see international rugby in Leeds is England coach Stuart Lancaster. While Cumbrian by birth, Lancaster was a Leeds man through and through during his playing days.
Having turned out first for Headingley, while a teacher in Wakefield, Lancaster continued to represent Leeds following the merger. After injury ended his career aged 30, he moved into coaching with the club and was soon involved with England at academy level. The rest, as they say, is history.
Leeds is a city that inspires loyalty and passion from its sportsmen, and a generous helping of hard graft. Come Rugby World Cup 2015 visiting fans will be able to see exactly what makes the place tick across three football codes and in the world of cricket. Elland Road and the region will have something in store for everyone.