Wembley today marked 500 days until the start of the 2015 Rugby World Cup by welcoming three rugby stars from past and present to the National Stadium.
Former England international Will Greenwood was joined at the stadium by Scotland’s Kelly Brown and Argentina’s Marcelo Bosch as the countdown to the tournament began.
Greenwood was a driving force behind England’s World Cup bid and the 2003 World Cup winner admits he’s starting to get very excited about the tournament.
“I did the bid in 2008 and I thought it was a lifetime away and we won it in 2009, still a lifetime away, but now the big staging posts keep getting closer and closer and it’s really exciting to think it’s going to be here before you know it and I can’t wait.”
Wembley will host two games during the pool stage of the tournament including Argentina’s clash with New Zealand a game which Greenwood expects to be a real thriller.
“Boom, what a game! An incredible game, Argentina turned the tournament on its head in 2007 turning over the French at the Stade de France,” exclaimed Greenwood.
“I love watching the Argentineans play. They’re getting more Rugby Championship exposure playing against Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, so it’ll be a great game.”
Of course Saracens’ Argentine star Marcelo Bosch will hope to play a part in that match and he says it’s one to relish.
“It’s going to be a really tough match for us but the entire nation is looking forward to it,” Bosch told Wembleystadium.com.
“I’ve got good experiences playing at Wembley. It’s a really nice stadium, the atmosphere is amazing and I can just imagine what it’ll be like for that game with New Zealand.”
Having competed in two World Cups already, Scotland’s Kelly Brown knows just what to expect from that World Cup atmosphere.
But even as a veteran of the world stage he admits thinking about being involved in the competition still gives him the same buzz.
“It’s only 500 days and it’s something to really look forward to,” said the Saracens flanker.
“I played in 2007 as well as the last one so I know World Cups are great occasions and a great experience. I just need to make sure I keep working hard and playing well for my club because I’d love to be involved in the next one.”
Back in 2003 England were the team who lifted the World Cup trophy and, in the process, raised the profile of the game enormously in the UK.
And Brown believes a World Cup tournament on British soil can do the same again.
“After the World Cup win in 03, Rugby took a lot of steps forward in this country and kept on growing” he said “I’m sure this world cup will act as a catalyst to really grow the game once again in the whole of the UK.”
Wembley Stadium’s Director of Event Owner Delivery, Lindsey Jackson agrees 2015 promises to be a very special tournament.
“Wembley Stadium is known for hosting global sporting and music moments, so obviously we’re delighted to be hosting two matches during a home 2015 Rugby World Cup.
“London is a superb city with various high profile venues suited to occasions like this. In the last four years alone Wembley has hosted two Champions League Finals (2011, 2013), nine 2012 Olympic Game football matches including both Gold medal games and the 2013 Rugby League World Cup double header.
“We pride ourselves on inspiring memories for event owners and their fans and thoroughly look forward to welcoming the teams from New Zealand, Argentina, Ireland and Romania, as well as their fans, to what will undoubtedly be a superb tournament.”
Sue Harper, Brent’s Strategic Director Environment & Neighbourhoods added.
‘We are delighted that Wembley Stadium and LB Brent have been selected as an official Match Venue and Host City,“ she said.
“We look forward to hosting two Rugby Matches and using the power of the tournament to inspire our communities to engage as spectators and participators in sport.”
“Brent has a strong track record of working on major sporting competitions and events and we look forward to working with England Rugby 2015 and Wembley Stadium over the next 500 days’”.