Re­peat of rare away day un­likely, says RFU

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Rugby Union - By Gavin Mairs RUGBY NEWS COR­RE­SPON­DENT

While the Rugby Foot­ball Union is ex­pect­ing a crowd of more than 50,000 at St James’ Park tonight for Eng­land’s World Cup send-off match against Italy, in­sid­ers have warned that there ap­pears lit­tle hope of an­other match be­ing staged out­side of Twick­en­ham any time soon be­cause of the gov­ern­ing body’s fi­nan­cial con­straints.

Tonight’s game is the first time out­side of a World Cup that Eng­land have played a home Test away from Twick­en­ham since Sir Clive Wood­ward’s side faced New Zealand at Old Traf­ford in 1997.

Eng­land did play Ar­gentina at Manch­ester United’s ground in 2009 but that was tech­ni­cally a game for Los Pu­mas, who for­went home ad­van­tage for fi­nan­cial rea­sons. The de­ci­sion to stage the game in the North East was taken un­der pre­vi­ous chief ex­ec­u­tive Steve Brown, who had been a strong advocate of hav­ing matches around the coun­try to build on the mo­men­tum gen­er­ated by the 2015 World Cup in Eng­land.

Eng­land played Uruguay in Manch­ester in their fi­nal pool game in 2015, while there were sell-out matches, not in­volv­ing Eng­land, at St James’ Park, El­land Road and Le­ices­ter. Brown, how­ever, had to over­come resistance to tak­ing games on the road un­der his pre­de­ces­sor, Ian Ritchie, be­cause of the loss of rev­enue to the RFU, with big matches at Twick­en­ham boost­ing rev­enues by up to £10mil­lion.

The fi­nan­cial chal­lenges that the RFU has faced over the past year mean it may be an­other 22 years be­fore an­other Test is played away from Twick­en­ham.

“I can’t see where the next op­por­tu­nity will be be­cause the RFU is so de­pen­dent on the rev­enue from au­tumn and Six Na­tions matches at Twick­en­ham,” said one RFU in­sider. “With the RFU’S fi­nan­home

Host: The scene is set for the game at St James’ Park in New­cas­tle – but Eng­land will stick with Twick­en­ham for fu­ture matches

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