We haven't heard as much about it as you might think, given that Canada and the U.S. are playing on Saturday in Toronto for a berth, but the Rugby World Cup will be in England and Wales in two years time. And it promises to be a massive show.
Sure, the Super Bowl is big. Ditto for the Stanley Cup and the Pan Am Games, which will be in Toronto in 2015 in case you forgot and will have more athletes than a Winter Olympics. But the Rugby World Cup is said to have the third largest global audience of any sporting event on the planet. They expect to sell 2 million tickets and are hoping to welcome up to a half-million overseas visitors.
Events will be spread all over England and also will be held in Cardiff, running from Sept. 18 to Oct. 31, when one team will play in the finals for a trick ... or a treat.
I had absolutely no idea but it turns out the game of rugby was invented in 1823 in the town of Rugby, England, where they apparently had nothing better to do than to hurl balls at each other and try to scratch and maim folks. I don't know, but I suspect a wedding or liquor was involved, or maybe both.It promises to be a fabulous spectacle over 44 days, with 20 teams and 48 games to play. Here's hoping Canada makes the grade and plays well.
The last World Cup title was taken by the All Blacks from New Zealand, by the way.
There's lots of other stuff happening over the pond these days, tourism officials pointed out on a fun evening in the Distillery District on a hot Toronto night on Thursday. Among other highlights of the tourism and travel sort:
- There's a new visitors centre at Stonehenge and a new car park with shuttles to the site. Apparently it dramatically improves the scene and cuts way down on visual and audio distractions, allowing the mysticism of Stonehenge to shine through.
- A new, state of the art arena opens in Leeds Sept. 4, with Elton John providing the main attraction. Some guy named Springsteen played there a few days back during a pre-opening session, whatever that is. They say it has the best acoustics of any hall in Europe.
-There's a new Shangri-La hotel inside the fabulous Shard building in central London. The Shard is already open and has great views and the hotel should be open by the end of the year.
- There's also a new Gainsborough Bath spa in Bath, a five-star hotel with access to the natural springs that made the area popular with Romans and other visitors, only some of them armed and availale for conquering the locals.
- I had no idea, but there's also a "Hotel Football" opening in Manchester, which pays homage to soccer/football and no doubt will be filled with Manchester United memorabilia. I don't think it'll be much of a romantic retreat, as there's hardly any scoring in soccer.
- Next year also marks the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare's birthday, with tons of activities in Stratford upon Avon, and the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who. Oh, and it'll be 50 years next year that The Beatles made their U.S. debut, singing their hearts out on The Ed Sullivan Show and sparking Beatlemania in the land of Uncle Sam. I still remember it myself....