Football grounds part of Rugby World Cup bid

LONDON - Wembley, Old Trafford, Emirates Stadium and Anfield will stage matches at the 2015 Rugby World Cup if England is chosen to host the tournament, the RFU said on Wednesday.

England, who are up against Italy, South Africa and Japan, presented their bid at the International Rugby Board (IRB) Council in Dublin, revealing that the homes of Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal would all be used.

Pool matches would be held in nine cities across England.

It would be a far cry from 1991 when England hosted the World Cup at small rugby stadiums while in 1999, when Wales were the official hosts, some lower league football ground staged matches.

"The combined capacity of our chosen stadia is in the region of 700,000 seats. Our target is to sell three million seats, that's a 30 percent increase on France 2007," RFU chief executive Francis Baron said in a statement outlining the bid.

France also used some major football stadiums in what was seen as the most successful World Cup to date.

"We will use some of the largest and iconic stadia in the world, venues like Twickenham Stadium (82,000), Wembley (90,000), Old Trafford (76,000), the Millennium Stadium (74,000) and the Emirates (61,000)," the RFU's Director of Business Operations Paul Vaughan said.

"Each of these venues is already equipped with the highest quality facilities, served by a comprehensive travel infrastructure and experienced in hosting world class sporting events.

"The result is a low risk, high reward strategy, capable of providing the ultimate experience for spectators, participants and partners alike."

Baron said hosting the World Cup in England 24 years after it was last the sole host would leave lasting benefits and act as a catalyst for the game across the world.

"At the heart of our bid are passion, love and commitment to the game and its ideals," he said. "Our desire is to broaden rugby's horizons by reaching out and embracing new audiences."

The decision on the hosts for the 2015 and 2019 Rugby World Cups will be made on July 28 in Dublin.