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Tigers shocked by Rugby World Cup decision

Leicester Tigers chairman Peter Tom says the club is surprised and disappointed by the decision not to include Welford Road among potential venues for the Rugby World Cup in England in 2015.

Mr Tom said: “We are hugely disappointed to learn that Welford Road will not play a part in England’s hosting of the Rugby World Cup in 2015.

“When the International Rugby Board awarded the Rugby World Cup to the country that gave this sport to the world we saw this as an opportunity to celebrate the international game and also the professional club game here. Leicester Tigers wanted to be part of that.

“Welford Road has hosted many, many major occasions over the years, including visits from South Africa, Australia and Argentina national teams in recent seasons. It is home to the best-supported and most successful club in the history of the professional game in this country and, as such, we believe is worthy of Rugby World Cup status.

“Leicester Tigers has always been a forward-thinking and progressive club, and has played an important role in the development and promotion of the game in this country. Who can forget that both head coach and captain of England’s World Cup-winning team, and several other members of the squad and backroom staff, spent major parts of their own careers in Leicester colours? The current England squad also contains a sizeable number of Leicester players, many of whom have been introduced to the sport as fans at Welford Road and have come through the club’s Academy structure to first-team and then international honours.

“It is that kind of heritage and dedication to the development of the game that makes the name of Leicester Tigers and Welford Road stadium known throughout the rugby-playing world.

“Welford Road is the largest designated club rugby stadium in England, an iconic home of the sport in this country and home to the most successful club in the history of a thriving, competitive and successful league structure yet it will not be at the table when it comes to hosting a global rugby event in this country.

“That the organisers of RWC2015 do not think this an appropriate venue for its fixtures is disappointing and confusing both for the professional club game in this country and for its supporters.

“Leicester Tigers has the largest community of rugby supporters of any club in the country and the club invested £15million in building the new Caterpillar Stand in 2009 to take capacity up to 24,000. A programme of development will continue to improve facilities and the matchday experience for players, supporters and corporate guests. It is disappointing that this investment is not rewarded with World Cup status while many other venues on the proposed list do not show that level of commitment to our sport.

“But we wish all of the Leicester Tigers players who will be representing their national teams at RWC2015 every success in it.”