Rugby World Cup 2015: Reaction to the town’s plans

Cllr Heather Timms and Cllr Michael Stokes, leader of the council
Cllr Heather Timms and Cllr Michael Stokes, leader of the council

A ‘Fanzone’, giant screen and colourful bunting are just some of things the borough will be able to enjoy during the Rugby World Cup.

With the countdown to next year’s tournament underway, Rugby Borough Council has revealed how it intends to celebrate the event in the birthplace of the game.

A special ‘Fanzone’ will be created for the community to get together and watch matches. The council has earmarked the space adjacent to the John Barford car park, Old Market Square, for the ‘Fanzone’ marquee, which will feature a giant screen.

Businesses and community organisations were invited to a meeting at the Merchant’s Inn, Rugby, on Thursday last week to discuss their involvement with the tournament.

In a survey following the briefing, 75 per cent of delegates described the briefing as “excellent” or “very good”.

But some business owners felt disappointed with the plans. Simon Ainley, of Garden Gate Flowers in Regent Street, said: “I had such high hopes that our council would really take control of our part in the avalanche of excitement that will inevitably fall on this town next autumn and take full advantage of every single opportunity.

“So far, though, the plans they have revealed seem to lack the scale of ambition and originality to match this world-wide event whose very roots are here on our turf.

“I have to hope that as they start to engage with the community and the businesses, something amazing happens.”

The borough’s streets will be lined with colourful bunting and banners to promote the ‘Proud Home’ status and official partnership with Rugby World Cup 2015.

Extra floral displays will be put in place to improve the look of the town and make it more inviting for visitors.

Schools will be encouraged to get involved with educational programmes where pupils can learn about Rugby’s history and develop their understanding of the game.

The council has teamed up with Visit England to promote the heritage of the town and encourage international tourists to see what Rugby has to offer

Cllr Heather Timms, responsible for economy, development and culture at Rugby Borough Council, was pleased with the response to last Thursday’s community meeting.

“Some delegates have already asked us for individual meetings to follow up ideas that they have, and we look forward to these,” she said.

The ‘Fanzone’, which will run for the full seven weeks of the tournament, will be free to enter on match days and ticketed community events will be held on non-match days.

Refreshments will be served in the marquee and the council believes the area could hold 1,000 people standing.

Borough council leader Cllr Michael Stokes believes the town needs to make the most of the occasion.

He said: “We’ve been given unique ‘Proud Home’ status and we really need to capitalise on that.

“We want to make the most of the Rugby World Cup 2015 and build a legacy.

“We hope businesses will get on board and help us make this a great year for Rugby,” he added.

Match day volunteers will be recruited next year when further details are released.

The plans to celebrate next year’s Rugby World Cup have been met with mixed feelings.

Adele Aske-Haley, co-owner of Cinnamon and Marmalade in Albert Street, said the council didn’t present any concrete plans at last week’s meeting.

“It was good to be asked along and included but I can’t help feeling it’s too little too late when it comes to making the most out of the World Cup,” she said.

“That being said, I think the ‘Fanzone’ is a good idea and it will bring more people to this part of town,” she added.

Michael O’Connor, owner of J Parris Jewellers in Regent Street, said the tournament was an opportunity to set up long-term plans to help the town centre.

“They need to get the coach parking right and then we can use it for tourist buses and become a tourist destination after the World Cup – that can be our legacy,” he said.

What do you think of the plans? How can our town make the most of the Rugby World Cup?

Email your views to editorial@rugbyadvertiser.co.uk