RWC 2015 promises more golden memories
As first dances go, this one was pretty much perfect. The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games were a rare triumph, and at the centre of the action was the spectacular Olympic Stadium in Stratford.
At the start of the Games, the stadium represented a dazzling array of statistics. It cost £500m to build and houses 80,000 fans, making it the third biggest stadium in England behind Rugby World Cup 2015 venues Twickenham and Wembley.
The roof holds 14 lighting towers, each one climbing 70m into the sky. But it wasn’t until Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony that its heart began beating. Once it had, there was no stopping it.
In reality, a stadium is merely bricks and mortar until memories of great deeds begin to fill each and every corner. In one brilliant month, the Olympic Stadium secured more than its fair share. From that opening ceremony, to the collective efforts of Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford, or the incredible feats of David Weir, barely a moment passed without a new height being scaled.
Rugby World Cup 2015 offers another chance for fans to experience world-class competition at a world-class venue. The Olympic Stadium will host five matches at the tournament, including the Bronze Final. Reigning champions New Zealand will also stop by to face qualifiers from Africa, while France and South Africa are set to play pool matches in the East End. Ireland and Italy will bring a Six Nations feel to proceedings with their Pool D encounter.
England Rugby 2015 Ambassador Lawrence Dallaglio took in the sights and sounds of the stadium during the Olympics and Paralympics, and is predicting a similar reception when rugby’s finest touch down.
“Some of the venues may not be traditional rugby venues, but they are very special places steeped in sporting history,” he said. “The whole Olympic Park, in fact the whole Olympics, was incredible.”
While the Olympic Stadium is yet to dip a toe into rugby’s waters, both London and the Games have a connection to the sport. In 1908 the city stepped up to host the Olympics after an eruption of Mt. Vesuvius caused the cancellation of the Rome Games. Rugby was part of the curriculum for the second time, with the Wallabies (representing Australasia) taking on Cornwall (representing Great Britain).
The touring Australians made quick work of their rivals – winning 32-3 in the fog at White City – and secured a spot in the history books. To celebrate the centenary of their victory the Wallabies descended on Wembley in 2008 to face a star-studded Barbarians side, winning 18-13 in the first rugby match staged at the re-vamped stadium.
At London 2012, the Olympic Stadium became part of sporting folklore. Rugby World Cup 2015 has quite an act to follow, but is all set to deliver another unforgettable feast of sporting action.