MOSCOW, October 1 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian city of Kaliningrad is to target hosting the Rugby World Cup, regional officials said Monday.
Kaliningrad was named as a host city for football’s 2018 World Cup on Saturday and has a history as one of Russia’s major rugby cities despite no longer having a professional team.
Ireland, Argentina and Russia have all expressed interest in hosting the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
“In 2020 or 2022 it’s completely realistic to host the Rugby World Cup in Kaliningrad,” regional sports minister Oleg Kosenkov said in comments e-mailed to R-Sport by the regional government.
The Rugby World Cup will not take place in either of the years specified by Kosenkov, but spokesman Dmitry Ivanov told R-Sport he believed the official had “made a mistake with the timing,” when asked whether Kosenkov had intended to refer to 2023.
Kosenkov provided little detail of how Kaliningrad would prepare for the tournament, specifying only that the pitch of the 45,000-seater arena planned for the football World Cup should be made “a bit longer and wider to fit the requirements for a game of rugby.”
Ivanov said that the city’s plans had won the support of Russia youth team coach Vitaly Sorokin and that regional governor Nikolai Tsukanov supported upgrading the city’s rugby infrastructure for the tournament.
Russia, led by former Sale Sharks coach Kingsley Jones, appeared in the Rugby World Cup for the first time last year in New Zealand, losing all three group stage games but winning plaudits for a dogged physical style of play that worried more established nations.
If Russia were to win the right to host the Rugby World Cup, it would be the first time the tournament has been hosted by a country outside the sport's top-tier nations.