Lancaster: Home advantage is key at RWC
Updated: Tuesday, 04 Dec 2012 17:05
Stuart Lancaster is convinced home advantage could make a decisive difference for England at the 2015 Rugby World Cup - if they are allowed to have it.
The tournament hosts face the most challenging group of all after being drawn alongside Australia and Wales, with the likelihood of Fiji also joining them.
The Welsh Rugby Union have made an audacious bid to stage their two fixtures against England and the Wallabies at the Millennium Stadium.
England Rugby 2015, the tournament organising body, refused to rule out the possibility that Lancaster's team could have to play their crunch pool fixture against Wales in Cardiff.
The England team management can make representations but they have no input into the final ER2015 decision, and nor do the Rugby Football Union despite being tournament hosts.
But England want to be at Twickenham, where on Saturday they were roared on to a historic victory over world champions New Zealand.
"Clearly from our point of view Twickenham would be our preferred venue," said Lancaster, the England head coach.
"Before the All Blacks game I was asked about the haka and said that we'd respect it as a cultural ritual but it was also true we had 82,000 people behind us.
"We certainly felt that in the stands and I am sure the boys felt it on the pitch. It was an unbelievable atmosphere. It was a special day. What home advantage did for the Olympians is a great example of how it inspires people to an extra five or 10%.
Lancaster goes on: "It's massive for England to have the World Cup here. For the game in general, so many people who will benefit from the tournament which will last way beyond 2015."
The ER2015 board plan to announce the fixtures and venues in March. England against Wales could well be selected as the match to open the tournament on 18 September, if the WRU do not get their way.
WRU chief executive Roger Lewis said: "It is very important to remember that Wales was included in the England's bid for matches in the Millennium Stadium.
"What home advantage did for the Olympians is a great example of how it inspires people to an extra five or 10%" - Stuart Lancaster
"What was pencilled in [for the Millennium Stadium] was eight games and the Welsh government and Cardiff city council would provide financial support to the tune of £1.4million.
"The UK treasury supported the under-writing of the competition and of course Wales is still part of the United Kingdom.
"We would be very welcoming hosts. The discussions will now begin. I think everything must be up for discussion because it is the finest rugby stadium in the world."
Australia are the top seeds in the group with England in the second tier and Wales slipped into the third band after last weekend's 14-12 defeat by the Wallabies.
Lancaster's plan is to turn those seedings upside down by using victory over the All Blacks as a launchpad to propel England into the top two in the world by 2015.
"Our self-belief has grown, but it has to continue to grow to a point where we are consistent," Lancaster said.
"We want to improve our rankings so that we're a top two side by the time the World Cup comes around.
"We have a very nice home of our own and I would hope very much we would contemplate playing the match here" - Ian Ritchie
"If we get to that point, we'll know we've got the consistency and inner belief to get across the line."
Later, Rugby Football Union chief executive Ian Ritchie dismissed the idea that the game would be played in Cardiff.
"We have a very nice home of our own and I would hope very much we would contemplate playing the match here," said Ritchie, who is overseeing a £76million upgrade of Twickenham stadium.
"With our modest little stadium here at Twickenham, with the further investment we might be able to make it into a decent spot to play rugby.
"We equally believe we are very good hosts here and that we could hold a decent game here and would very much want to do that. Shock, horror and astonishment that I would suggest that!
"We will not get a better opportunity to inspire people to play rugby, be volunteers and participate in rugby.
"We are putting the building blocks in place to make sure we can take the most advantage of having the World Cup."