Rugby World Cup 2015
Kay sympathises with Welford Road axe
ESPN Staff
October 8, 2012
General view of the Walkers Stadium,  Leicester City v Watford, League Division One, Walkers Stadium, Leicester, England, August 10, 2002
The King Power Stadium will host matches in the 2015 World Cup © Getty Images

Former Leicester lock Ben Kay has regretfully accepted that the decision to axe Welford Road as a potential venue for 2015 Rugby World Cup may have been the correct call.

The Rugby World Cup winner and former Tigers stalwart has sympathy for those fans angered by organisers' preference for the neighbouring King Power Stadium, home of Leicester City FC, but claims the venue ticks all the boxes when it comes to hosting a match in rugby's showpiece tournament.

Welford Road's recently expanded capacity of 24,000 and the rich heritage of the club was not enough to convince England Rugby 2015, the organisers of the next global gathering, that English rugby's largest club rugby ground warranted selection.

The major stumbling block was the size of the playing area with the constraints of the pitch failing to meet the strict criteria while ER2015 also hinted at concerns regarding the development of the ground.

Tigers chairman Peter Tom has hit out at the decision and was quick to highlight the Tigers' proud international history and the work they have done up to now in increasing Welford Road's capacity.

But Kay, who spent his entire 11-year professional career with the Tigers, claims that while he understands the Tigers' grievances, the 2015 showpiece should showcase some of the best stadia the country has to offer.

"I can see why Leicester Tigers fans would be disappointed to not having World Cup rugby in the stadium but there are positives and negatives to everything," Kay told ESPN. "Leicester have done a lot over the past few years in bringing international matches to Welford Road and along with the redevelopment of the Cat Stand they would've been hopeful of hosting a match.

"But when organising a tournament, you want it played in the best arenas in the country - the likes of Old Trafford and the Millennium Stadium are on the list. Welford Road is certainly pushing the boundaries but across the road is a bigger and more modern stadium. The King Power Stadium is an impressive venue and Leicester will still have rugby matches in the city.

"I can see both sides of the argument and hopefully the Leicester public will go out and support the World Cup. You can see that the organisers behind 2015 are looking to emulate the spirit of the Olympics by using the best available stadia at their disposal."

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