England Rugby World Cup 2015 ambassador and England Rugby legend Lawrence Dallaglio OBE has spoken exclusively to Newcastle Falcons ahead of next year’s World Cup.
The former England captain was at Newcastle’s St James’ Park on Tuesday to mark 500 days to go until the Rugby World Cup.
Three matches will take place at the home of Newcastle United with South Africa taking on Scotland (Saturday 3 October 2015), New Zealand versus Tonga (Friday 9 October) and Samoa against Scotland (Saturday 10 October).
“It is extremely exciting for Newcastle to be staging a series of massive World Cup matches,” Dallaglio told the Falcons official website.
“We have the current world champions and one of the biggest brands in sport, New Zealand coming to Newcastle, while our neighbours from Scotland are playing what they might feel as two home games against huge opposition.
“It promises to be a fantastic atmosphere at St James’ Park with 52,000 plus crowds and I’m sure the people of Newcastle and the North East will get behind whatever team plays there and make the Geordie reception very special,” he added.
And after the success of the London 2012 Olympics, the 41-year-old is hoping the tournament can inspire the next generation of youngsters in the North East and Cumbria.
Dallaglio said: “This country has a big appetite for major sporting events and the Olympics was mega. The values of rugby lends itself to that feeling of teamwork, respect and fun which is what the Rugby World Cup stands for.
“Although Newcastle is a football city there is a massive rugby community in and around Newcastle and the North East and I’m sure everyone will buy into the Rugby World Cup.
“It is not just about the 80 minute games, it is about the whole day and the whole weekend and it will be a celebration of rugby.”
Whilst the iconic England No.8 was on Tyneside to promote the countdown to the World Cup, Dallaglio was keen to pay tribute to Newcastle Falcons after they secured their Aviva Premiership status at the weekend. Worcester Warriors’ defeat at the hands of Saracens meant that Dean Richards’ men will be playing top-flight rugby next term.
“It has been a tough old campaign for Newcastle, but it was never going to be any other than that when you looked at the size of the task ahead of them,” said Dallaglio.
He added: “They have a new coaching team who have not had a lot of time to prepare for this season with the Championship play-offs taking place quite late on as many Premiership clubs started their pre-season.
“I think Dean and the squad have done a tremendous job as success is measured in different ways, and for this particular group of people it was about staying in the Premiership this season and building on that in seasons to come.
“The World Cup will ultimately benefit the Falcons, and I still believe that this is a club with the potential to really grow and grow and become twice the size it is.”