Rugby World Cup

Milton Keynes' Stadium MK has been named among 13 venues that will host Rugby World Cup matches when the tournament comes to England in 2015.

The home of the Milton Keynes Dons Football Club will host three games in October 2015, one of them featuring 2011 runners-up France.

Other venues chosen to host games include London's Olympic Stadium.

England will kick off the tournament at Twickenham on the evening of Friday September 18, 2015, against a team from the Oceania qualifying group, likely to be Fiji.

Two quarter-finals, both semi-finals and the final will be at Twickenham, as well as five pool matches including three England games - the other two being against Wales and Australia. Wales's match against Australia will also be at Twickenham.

Cardiff's Millennium Stadium will host the other two quarter-finals, plus six pool matches including two Wales games against yet-to-be-determined World Cup qualifiers.

The Olympic Stadium will have four pool games plus the bronze medal match.

Wembley Stadium hosts two pool matches including New Zealand v Argentina, one of the most attractive-looking games of the group phase.

Coventry, Bristol, Derby, Southampton and Sunderland, who were on the original long list of venues, have all been omitted from the final list.

The tournament schedule also sees England play all their group matches at weekends, as do Ireland.

Wales, Scotland, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand will all have one midweek fixture.

Scotland will play two matches at Newcastle's St James' Park, including eye-catching fixtures against South Africa and Samoa.

England Rugby 2015 chief executive Debbie Jevans said: "The world can now start planning for Rugby World Cup 2015.

"In less than two and a half years' time, we will be welcoming the world to England and to a celebration of rugby, played in a range of atmospheric stadiums right across the country.''

The 13 venues selected are: Twickenham (10 matches); Wembley Stadium (two matches); Olympic Stadium (five matches); Millennium Stadium, Cardiff (eight matches); Etihad Stadium, Manchester (one match); St James' Park, Newcastle (three matches); Elland Road, Leeds (two matches); King Power Stadium, Leicester (three matches); Villa Park, Birmingham (two matches); Kingsholm, Gloucester (four matches); stadiummk, Milton Keynes (three matches); Amex Stadium, Brighton (two matches) and Sandy Park, Exeter (three matches).

Rugby World Cup chairman Bernard Lapasset said the announcement was "an important milestone''.

He added: "We have also worked hard with all stakeholders to deliver a match schedule that is fair and balanced for all teams and that will provide the stage for the world's finest players from 20 nations to perform to the best of their ability during a six-week festival of world-class rugby.''

Tickets for the 48-match tournament will go on sale next year.

Sports minister Hugh Robertson said: "Rugby World Cup in 2015 is another great global sports event coming to the UK.

"It has the full backing of Government and will be fantastic for rugby in this country encouraging more people to get involved.

"There is also a great tourism opportunity to make the most of with matches being played across the country.''

Matches to be played at Stadium:MK, Milton Keynes (capacity 30,717)

Thu 1 Oct 2015 France v Americas 1 (Pool D)
Sat 3 Oct 2015 Samoa v Asia 1 (Pool B)
Sun 6 Oct 2015 Oceania 1 v Play-Off Winner (Pool A)

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