Could the Rugby World Cup leave Newcastle United less than pitch perfect?
The decision to use St James’ Park as a host venue for the 2015 Rugby World Cup was one that I welcomed, and I still do.
It’s a great honour for us to be part of the show, which will be worth a massive amount of money to the local economy and showcase Newcastle, and its warm Geordie welcome, to a global TV audience of millions.
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Already we see the ‘RWC 2015’ logo emblazoned onto the iconic Tyne Bridge in giant lettering. It looks really good.
It fills me with pride that we weren’t overlooked. Don’t forget folks, SAFC would never say it, but they’d be turning somersaults if they had of been chosen as a host city, albeit one with less local infrastructure to support the influx of visitors. We’ve got one up on them there.
So there we have it. I’m not deriding the tournament, even if rugby isn’t my preferred code. I have to admit that I’m never fully in tune with the rules associated with the oval shaped ball. Let’s say I have a rough idea of what’s happening.
St James’ will see three group games played on the hallowed turf. First up we have probably the biggest weekend. Saturday October 3. South Africa take on Scotland in a 4.45pm kick off. It promises to be an electric atmosphere and we all know the Scots will be travelling down to Tyneside in great numbers, and doubtless visiting a few of the local watering holes. Ditto the South Africans, I dare say.
All the while that this is going on our beloved Newcastle Utd will be toiling to keep moneybags Manchester City at bay down at the Etihad.
The following Friday, October 9, the All Blacks are in town. New Zealand will face Tonga in an 8pm kick off. The following day, Saturday 10 October, the Scots are back again, wouldn’t you know it. This time they’re crossing Hadrian’s Wall for a 2.30pm kick off against Samoa, a game they’re more likely to win.
That will then conclude the pool matches to be played at Gallowgate.
What on earth does this have to do with a football website, I hear you cry. Especially when there are some pretty big issues in the melting pot at NUFC. I get a sense that our fans are already a bit uneasy at the lack of action in terms of incoming players and coaching staff.
The only worry I have with all these rugby games is what they might do the playing surface. A small issue? Maybe. But nonetheless I fear the famous turf could be badly cut up by three hard fought rugby test matches in a week and I just hope it doesn’t have an impact on our lot playing their passes about in the weeks after the tournament.
That’s assuming McClaren wants to play with the ball on the floor. Here’s hoping.
PS Have we signed anyone yet?
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