Exclusive: Doncaster in union?

Doncaster's own Mini Olympics, at Castle Park School Games
Doncaster's own Mini Olympics, at Castle Park School Games

DONCASTER is in the running to become an official training base for the Rugby World Cup 2015, the Free Press can exclusively reveal.

Officials at Doncaster Knights have lodged an application with tournament organisers England Rugby 2015 to set up a team base camp at Castle Park.

And after playing host to the Maori All Blacks this month, Knights chiefs are confident they can bring the World Cup to Doncaster.

An involvement in the 2015 showcase tournament would be a major sporting and economical boost for Doncaster, particularly after the town’s bid to host games at the 2013 Rugby League World Cup at the Keepmoat Stadium was snubbed by the RFL earlier this year.

Knights chief executive David Ryall told the Free Press that Knights had little hesitation in lodging a training base bid.

He said: “The opportunity to welcome a World Cup nation to Doncaster is a great opportunity to further showcase our facilities at Castle Park and also spread the word about rugby union in the north of England.

“We’ve got one of the best training bases in the country and, unlike most Premiership sides, we can offer everything on one site.

“Hosting the recent Maori All Blacks game gave us a taste of what we can achieve and it put a bit of a marker down in terms of the future.

“All the feedback was extremely positive.

“That should stand us in good stead and only enhance our reputation with England Rugby 2015 and the RFU.

“Developing rugby in the north is one of the RFU’s key strategic goals so that will hopefully work in our favour.”

Knights’ bid to bring a training base to Doncaster is likely to focus on the town’s excellent transport links and facilities at Castle Park.

The application was also boosted by Leeds United’s nearby Elland Road stadium appearing on a long list of 17 potential match venues selected by England Rugby 2015.

The presence of several venues in the Midlands, including the Leicester City Stadium and Derby County’s Pride Park, might also give Doncaster a geographical upper hand.

Rugby World Cup 2015 will involve 48 matches and will take place over a six-week period from September 18 to October 31, 2015.

The pool allocation draw for the first stage of the competition will take place next month and the long list of venues will be whittled down to a final 12 by the end of March next year - a process which will be crucial to Doncaster’s chances.

Only then will England Rugby 2015 turn their attention to selecting a range of training and team base camps at locations throughout the country.

A decision on whether Doncaster will host one of the 20 qualifying nations is not expected to be made until 2014.

Andy Cosslett, England Rugby 2015 chairman, said: “Our vision for Rugby World Cup 2015 is to ensure that we take this prestigious tournament to as many parts of the country as possible.

“We believe that the geographical spread of venues selected will enable us to maximise the reach of the tournament.

“In addition, we will be selecting further venues for training and team base camps that will ensure that the rugby community is at the very heart of Rugby World Cup 2015.”

Doncaster’s bid is sure to be looked upon favourably by the RFU, who chose Castle Park to host this month’s prestigious friendly between a Championship XV and the touring Maori All Blacks side.

The game was broadcast live on Sky Sports to a worldwide audience and was watched by a crowd of 4,956 - one of the biggest in the stadium’s short history.