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?

You can follow the author on Twitter @DavePunton



  • DavidDrape

    great points. i personally would have left the current surface in place and replaced the turf next summer and brought in a few more helping hands to nature the pitch back to a suitable standard after the RWC. No doubt the pitch is likely to be ing paid for by the rugby income anyway, but totally agree if we get the rain it will cut up badly and may never recover. the positives like you say like the rugby league fans and like the scotland fans in dublin other weekend they will take over our town and pubs etc bringing in massive amounts of income to the local economy as well as a great break to a great city/area with great people. I hope they mob the telcos across the road from SJP and take their own beer in.

  • 1957

    There are a few clubs who share with rugby teams from both codes and the pitches are ok (except for the mess made by hiding pitch markings). In the short term though two games in two days will take its toll especially if it’s a wet start to October.

  • prestondave

    Leazes Park Ender- Has your dad got the same name as you and from Gateshead.?

  • LeazesEnder

    The Scots won’t be crossing Hadrian’s wall…. most of Newcastle is North of the Wall including St James Park….

  • DavidDrape

    LeazesEnder was chattign to some scots in dublin other week and telling them about one scottish raid on newcastle and went not to explain that the defenders of the city at the time were heavily outnumbered so decided to stand outside the city walls to make it look as if there were more than there actually was. The scots fell for it and diverted to rape and pillage Hexham instead.

  • toonterrier

    Well that’s the ready made excuse for our first few defeats. The new players from Bangladesh on zero hours contracts couldn’t cope with the poor pitch and the cold weather. No problem as we will be making lots of new signings in January.

  • LeazesEnder

    DavidDrape LeazesEnder I don’t remember that.

  • PhilYare

    it could really effect our passing game….. if we could only pass the ball