Simon Cohen delighted with reaction to Leicester Tigers' World Cup snub
Leicester Tigers chief executive Simon Cohen says he has been "greatly encouraged" by the furious reaction to Rugby World Cup organisers' decision to omit Welford Road from its list of potential venues for the competition.
Tigers' home stadium was not one of the 17 grounds named on Monday as possible hosts for games when the competition is held in England in 2015.
Leicester City's King Power Stadium was, however, on the list, as was Gloucester's Kingsholm. The 17-strong list will be whittled down to between 10 or 12 next year.
Tigers fans immediately vented their fury on social networking sites. Cohen said the club not only received well-wishes from its own supporters, but also from elsewhere.
"We have received texts, e-mails and an awful lot of support on Twitter and the club's Facebook feeds which have been very encouraging," he said.
"Fans have been absolutely outraged by the decision and the media, who have generally been somewhat cynical towards Tigers at times, have also been supportive in their response.
"That shows the high regard in which Welford Road is held, by both our supporters – which you would expect – and the wider world of rugby, which is fantastic.
"There is no appeal process within Rugby World Cup's processes but you would hope that they would find a way of taking note of what people are saying and, if there has been a genuine injustice, they will have the ability to do something about it."
The chief operation officer of ER 2015 (the organisers of the World Cup in England) Ross Young, told yesterday's Leicester Mercury that the 'small' size of Welford Road's pitch was the main stumbling block in hosting games.
But Cohen pointed to previous visits to Leicester's ground from international teams as evidence that pitch size was "not really an issue".
Organisers say the grounds need to be a minimum of 95 metres in length – but Tigers is 91 metres.
"They are entitled to set whatever criteria they like because it is their competition," said Cohen.
"But you have to say that, in terms of international teams, Argentina, South Africa and Australia have been very happy to play here.
"They think Welford Road is a great pitch, a great stadium and a great place to play rugby in.
"And, if you look at Tigers' performances at home, we have scored a lot of tries at Welford Road. It is clearly not a pitch that inhibits attacking rugby.
"As a result, I don't think that (pitch size) is particularly an issue, especially as they may have to compromise on the (size of the) dead-ball areas to use some of the football stadiums that are on the list."
Angry Tigers fans have set up a special page on Facebook to gather support for Welford Road to be installed on the list of potential venues for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
The page, which already has almost 500 supporters, can be found under the heading: "Get Welford Road Stadium on the RWC Venue List".