The 2015 Rugby World Cup will still be a vibrant festival of rugby despite the decision to axe Welford Road as a venue, the tournament's chief operating officer Ross Young has vowed.
England Rugby 2015 have come under fire for scrapping plans to stage matches at Leicester's historic ground, the biggest club rugby stadium in the country. Gloucester's Kingsholm is the only Aviva Premiership stadium on a list of 17 potential venues, 12 of which belong to football clubs in the Premier League or Football League.
But Young pointed to the atmosphere generated in French football stadia during the 2007 tournament, saying: "We have to make sure that rugby fans will get a proper rugby experience. France is a good example. All the venues in France during the pool phase were football venues."
He went on: "It felt like a rugby event and hopefully we will be able to serve beer in England, which will make it even more like a rugby event!
"There were challenges in France but people still felt part of it.
"People said the French were fickle and they would never turn up for USA-Tonga but they did. There were average gates in excess of 43,000.
"If it is not a rugby experience then we have failed. We have certainly got to do that."
Welford Road, Leicester's home for 120 years, had been included as a venue in England's successful bid to host the World Cup and was lined up to host two midweek pool matches.
But the 24,000-capacity stadium was ultimately rejected because its pitch size and facilities failed to meet the hosting standards laid down by Rugby World Cup Ltd.
- England Rugby
- 2015 Rugby World Cup