Even though England are host nation, World Cup regulations state every stadium must be treated as neutral venue
England are forced to wear their red away kit instead of traditional white for their opening World Cup match against Fiji at Twickenham despite being tournament hosts.
Fiji, who are the one other side in international rugby whose jersey is also white, won the right to wear their home kit after winning the toss at meeting of the team managers’ of all the competing nations.
As the Pacific Island side have been nominated as the ‘home’ side for the Sept 18 fixture, they will also benefit from being housed in England’s normal changing room, forcing Stuart Lancaster’s side into the smaller away changing room.
England are understood to be relaxed about the decision, with both sides more concerned that they will be given enough time to warm up for the tournament opener given the time demands of the World Cup opening ceremony that will precede the match.
England head coach Stuart Lancaster oversaw an expensive facelift of England’s 40sq ft home changing room at Twickenham as part of a £70million redevelopment of the stadium however Fiji will not benefit from the extra facilities.
Telegraph Sport understands that state-of-the-art facilities such as the hydrotherapy bath, direct access to the gym and a big screen on a central pillar will all be decommissioned for the tournament to ensure that neither changing room has any significant advantage over the other.
The tournament requirements for ‘neutral’ rooms means that all the team branding that Lancaster has overseen in the last two years to create a stimulating environment for his players –the England head coach’s principal philosophies of ‘Teamwork, Respect, Enjoyment, Discipline, Sportsmanship’ have been imprinted on a circular ceiling wood panel – will be blanked out.
England will return to their traditional changing room for the pool-defining matches against Wales and Australia, who interestingly chose to be housed in the away changing room even though they won ‘home’ advantage in the coin toss.
To ensure that they are prepared for all eventualities, England will use the away changing room for their final World Cup warm-up match against Ireland at Twickenham on Saturday, but will wear their traditional white kit.
England however will occupy their normal bench, on the right-hand side of the tunnel, which they will also use against Fiji as it is closest to the away changing room.
Asked how England should embrace the advantage of playing at Twickenham, England lock Geoff Parling said: “The familiarity of playing at Twickenham – although we are in the away changing room this weekend and against Fiji so that is a bit different.” England have attracted criticism from supporters for wearing a variety of away kits during the autumn Test series as part of their commercial deal with kit manufacturers.
Away jerseys have included anthracite grey, purple and black – which was their colour for the opening game of the last World Cup in New Zealand.
However Lancaster has since over-ridden that policy by insisting that England should always wear white when they are the home team and there is no clash with the opposition.
England wore their controversial black kit against Argentina in the pool match of the 2011 World Cup although that was at the request of broadcasters as the Pumas’ white and blue-hooped jersey was said to be too close to England’s white under floodlights.
Wales will also wear their away kit by choice against Fiji for their match on Oct 1, while South Africa will also be in a change kit for the match against Scotland on Oct 3.
The process of allocation of changing room and team kit for each fixture was determined by a coin toss undertaken last year by the team managers and overseen by tournament officials, as has been the case at previous World Cups.
Following the coin toss, which took place at the team managers’ meeting in November 2014, Team A had two months to confirm its choice for each area to tournament organisers.
As per tournament rules, if the primary kit of the two teams in a respective match did not clash, ‘Team A’ were allowed to choose to wear its alternate kit if this then did not force ‘Team B’ to also wear its alternate kit.
All team kits are then tested to ensure that there are no colour clashes that will impact on match officiating and spectator experience.
For the quarter-finals, the pool winner of each respective match will automatically be designated Team A and will make its choice as above. Coin tosses are conducted for each of the semi-finals, the bronze final and the final.
Meanwhile, England Rugby 2015, the company organising the tournament, have insisted it will not be able to change its policy that bans babies from attending matches unless they have their own tickets.
ER 2015 admitted on Thursday they have received a number of enquiries from parents asking it was possible to bring newly-born babies with them to matches.
Tetteh Turkson, a barrister living in Brixton, who purchased tickets for himself and his wife for the matches between Ireland and Italy at the Olympic Stadium and Ireland against Romania at Wembley, said however he had been told that his two-month old Ciaran son would not be allowed entry without another ticket.
“I was told that they don’t allow babies,” Turkson told Telegraph Sport. “I am absolutely furious. “The tickets were applied for before he was even conceived so it would have been ridiculous to have ordered a child ticket as well.” An ER 2015 spokesman said: “We have to comply with the safety regimes of the venues we are using – and our policy has to be consistent across all 13 RWC venues.
“For safety reasons, every human being in a venue needs a ticket so that venue capacities are not exceeded.”
• By Gavin Mairs, Rugby News Correspondent, The Telegraph