Rugby World Cup 2015 may begin and end at Twickenham, but there is plenty more ground to cover outside the spiritual heartland of English rugby. With 13 grounds set to host World Cup fixtures, next year’s Tournament offers rugby fans the ideal opportunity to visit some corners of the country not always included in the average tourism itinerary.
From the county town of Devon to the sea-lined shores of Brighton and the vibrant post-industrial landscape of Newcastle upon Tyne, the Tournament will bring top-class international action to some of England’s lesser-known tourist destinations. As an Official Travel Agent for Rugby World Cup 2015, we here at Flight Centre thought it high time to shine a light on the Top 5 Rugby World Cup 2015 venues off the beaten tourist path.
Newcastle upon Tyne
When it comes to rugby, Newcastle upon Tyne really is the ‘pride of the north’. This one-time coal mining capital is home to the Newcastle Falcons – the only team from England’s populous north-east to have taken part in England’s professional Aviva Premiership Rugby competition. There’s more to Newcastle than just sport, however, with the city home to the famous Tyne Bridge, raucous nightlife and an historic Grainger Town city centre. The cavernous 52,000-capacity St James’ Park is also an icon of the city, making Newcastle an ideal stop on any Rugby World Cup 2015 tour.
Perched on the edge of the picturesque River Soar is one of England’s best-preserved historic cities. Boasting the architectural remains of the ancient Roman and Tudor cultures which once flourished in this part of the world, Leicester is also a veritable rugby stronghold. Home to the most successful club side during English rugby’s professional era – Leicester Tigers – this bustling East Midlands city is one of England’s hidden gems. From the Norman-era Leicester Castle to its 600-year-old Guildhall, right up to its ultra-modern Leicester City Stadium, this is a destination not to be missed.
The cathedral city of Gloucester may seem an unlikely venue for an international sporting extravaganza, but beneath the veneer of this charming river city beats a passionate rugby heart. Home to one of England’s oldest rugby clubs, the succinctly named Gloucester Rugby, the city will host games at the compact Kingsholm Stadium on the outskirts of town. However, Gloucester’s most obvious attraction is the picturesque cathedral which looms over the River Severn landscape and beyond, in a city located on the fringe of the equally resplendent Cotswalds.
Down in deepest Devonshire is the county town of Exeter. Once a distant Roman outpost and subsequently a powerful wool-trading town, these days Exeter makes the most of its unique geography by welcoming hordes of visitors to its sun-kissed city centre. The aptly-named Sandy Park will come alive to the sound of three pool matches, while the city’s picture-perfect Gothic cathedral is one of Devon’s most recognisable tourist attractions.
Peering out towards the English Channel, perhaps it’s no surprise that the seaside city of Brighton has long been renowned for its cosmopolitan air. This vibrant, youthful city enjoys a reputation as one of England’s most welcoming and rugby fans will feel right at home in the state-of-the-art Brighton Community Stadium. Brighton’s cool and casual vibe and proximity to London make it a perfect place destination for day-trippers eager to see a different side of the Tournament, whilst remaining close to its main London hub.