Very few landmarks in Newcastle are quite as iconic as St James’ Park, the home of the city’s famous football team. The site, of course, has massive associations with the achievements of the club down the years, with famous names from Peter Beardsley to Alan Shearer stepping onto the turf to send the locals into raptures with their goalscoring exploits.
Fans will be hoping that the current crop of Newcastle United players will be able to write their own names into the club’s history in the months ahead, with the side currently battling to maintain their place in the Premier League once again. However, there will be more than just football action on offer for the locals to watch at St James’ Park in 2019, as the stadium is set to once again embrace balls of a very different shape.
Earlier this year, it was confirmed that England’s rugby union team is set to play a home Test match in Newcastle for the first time at the venue, with the match on September 6th also being the side’s first to take place away from Twickenham since the World Cup in 2015. Perhaps most notably, it will also be the team’s final warm-up game before heading to the World Cup in Japan.
Excitement will be high for the match, particularly after England put in a strong performance in the recent Autumn Internationals and recorded an impressive win against Australia. As of November 30th, Paddy Power was offering odds of 3/1 on England winning next year’s rugby Six Nations, so that competition may provide some clear indications as to just how far the team could go at the World Cup.
Top European action
While news of the England game is undoubtedly huge, it is not the only notable rugby union match which is set to take place at St James’ Park next year. Talks are reportedly ongoing regarding the prospect of a repeat of this year’s ‘Big One’ event, which saw Newcastle Falcons play at the stadium.
In addition, the venue is also set to host the 2019 European Rugby Champions and Challenge Cup finals – two of the biggest dates in the European rugby calendar – across the weekend of May 10th. Mick Hogan, the event director of Newcastle 2019, said the city was looking forward to “an incredible weekend”.
A whole new world
Involvement in the rugby world has opened St James’ Park up to a host of new possibilities. While the stadium has hosted previous rugby events including games for the 2015 World Cup, the coming year looks set to be the moment when it truly establishes itself as a core part of the sport.
The stadium has come a long way since its opening in 1892 and while its credentials as a true theatre of football are never going to be in doubt, the continued steps towards using the stadium for different purposes can only serve to benefit the city in the long run. From top football and rugby action to incredible gigs, St James’ Park is the place to be.