Falcons help the North East prepare for Rugby World Cup

Saturday 20 September 2014 Written by: Adam

Earlier this week Kingston Park played host to businesses from across the North East to celebrate the landmark ‘one year to go’ until the Rugby World Cup 2015 kicks off at Twickenham.

The briefing, organised by NewcastleGateshead Initiative and Newcastle City Council, brought over 150 representatives from North East businesses together to talk through opportunities arising from next year’s tournament, which is expected to generate £14m for the region’s economy.

Speakers from the city council and tourism officials joined Falcons players Ally Hogg, Mike Blair, Uili Kolo’ofai and Kane Thompson as well as Women’s World Cup winners Katy McLean and Tamara Taylor in a panel hosted by former Falcon and Scotland international Doddie Weir.

The panel entertained the audience with stories of world cup participation and their predictions about who might lift the Webb Ellis trophy in 2015.

With Rugby World Cup matches set to take place in stadiums across the UK next year, Newcastle’s St James’ Park will play host to three group games, including reigning world champions New Zealand in their fixture against Tonga.

Thousands of international visitors are expected on Tyneside in October of next year to watch the games, signalling a clear opportunity for hotels, bars, restaurants and cultural attractions, while a global TV audience of more than 4 billion is expected to watch the tournament, bringing huge global exposure to host cities such as Newcastle.

The briefing session also saw the announcement of a twelve month festival of rugby in the build up to the World Cup which will feature a number of events for the city, including the Newcastle Falcons Legends game due to take place at Kingston Park on 2nd October 2015.

Melanie Magee, Director of the Falcons Community Foundation said: “To have the Rugby World Cup played on our doorstep really is a once in a lifetime opportunity and the club is thrilled to be involved.

“We’re working closely with Newcastle City Council and NewcastleGateshead Initiative to help engage with the North East community in the build up to the tournament and to maximise the benefits of Newcastle’s position as a host city for both the region and the club.”

Sarah Stewart, chief executive of NewcastleGateshead Initiative, said: “Anticipation around Rugby World Cup 2015 is mounting now tickets have gone on sale. With one year to go until the first game of the tournament, both we and Newcastle City Council were keen to update tourism businesses and the wider business community about our work to date and importantly, how people can get involved in Rugby World Cup 2015.

“NewcastleGateshead Initiative is continuing to support overseas travel agents and independent travellers as they plan their Rugby World Cup 2015 experiences here in Newcastle. With the support of businesses from across the region, visitors are guaranteed a special welcome and a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We are working with colleagues on some very special events in the run up to the games, including a visit from the Webb Ellis Cup and appearances from some very well-known rugby faces. Watch this space.”

Tickets for Rugby World Cup matches are on general sale now until September 29. Anyone interested must register their ticket requirements at tickets.rugbyworldcup.com. People may apply for up to four tickets per match and oversubscribed matches go into a ballot, with confirmation in October.

Over 900 Newcastle Falcons Season Ticket Holders have already secured their tickets for the tournament through England 2015’s Priority Access Programme.