Manchester is rightly regarded as a sporting hotspot, having not just a huge profile in the world of football, but also staging international and country cricket, rugby league internationals and major cycling events, the latter taking place at the velodrome used to produce a string of British gold medal winners and Tour de France champions. The city also hosted the 2002 Commonwealth Games and the stadium was then converted to become a new home for Manchester City. However, the City of Manchester Stadium – or the Etihad as it is known after the club sponsors – has always had rugby associations.
It staged the Rugby Sevens in the 2002 Games and has subsequently hosted the Rugby League Big Weekend. It will stage the England versus Uruguay game on October 10th, with the kick-off at 20:00 BST. The available tickets are not cheap – the lowest price is £175 – but this is a showpiece occasion after all and a rare chance to see the England team playing a home game away from Twickenham. At the same time, the venue has outstanding facilities, as might be expected of such a modern area, which is being expanded to a capacity of 54,000, just so Manchester City can display even more empty seats on matchdays, except when they’re playing United. The ground is located conveniently close to Manchester city centre, and those staying in a hotel may decide to take a walk there, passing through areas undergoing major urban redevelopment, notably the New Islington project. With the city centre close by, all the bars, restaurants and clubs one could wish for are close at hand.
Those who fancy adding some more sporting interest can visit the National Football Museum, while people aiming for a little higher culture can visit the Manchester City Art Gallery. The biggest attraction for rugby followers, however, will be the Fanzone, which will be open in Albert Square by the town hall from October 9th to 11th and will feature lots of fun activities, food and drink, plus a big screen showing other matches. Manchester may only get a brief taste of the World Cup, but it will be enough to show off its credentials as a great city of sport yet again.
If you are planning to see Rugby World Cup matches book London hotels now.