THE MOST STAR-STUDDED RUGBY GAMES IN COVENTRY’S HISTORY
The Ricoh Arena’s head of operations is preparing for one of the most high-profile sporting weekends in the venue’s ten-year history.
Justine Hewitt, who joined the Ricoh Arena a decade ago, is in charge of the behind-the-scenes logistics for one of the most star-studded rugby games in Coventry’s history.
Two-times European Cup winners Wasps will be facing three-times holders and reigning European Champions Toulon in a match littered with stars from the Rugby World Cup on Sunday (November 22).
Both teams are packed with international players – Toulon feature Rugby World Cup stars South African winger Bryan Habana and Australians Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell as the French giants aim to win the European Champions Cup for a record-breaking fourth time.
Wasps have their own collection of international stars to select from including Australian legend George Smith, All Blacks’ Charles Piutau and Frank Halai, Wales’ lock Bradley Davies and England’s James Haskell and Joe Launchbury, in this high-profile cup tie.
Twenty-four hours before Wasps’ first home fixture in this season’s European competition, Coventry City face Gillingham in a top-of-the-table clash in their League One fixture as Tony Mowbray’s men look to build on their excellent start to the campaign.
Justine said work for the high-profile Sunday game will start the moment the whistle sounds on Saturday.
She said: “I have worked on a variety of national and international events since joining the Ricoh Arena ten years ago and this will rank up there among them for me and the rest of the operations staff.
“We will be in across the weekend and the work will start as soon as the ground is clear on Saturday. We are used to turning the pitch around quickly and after the investment this summer, the surface should look fantastic both live and on television.
“Sadly I don’t get to see the game as our team are on duty throughout the match. It’s a real shame and this is one I would love to see – Toulon are the glamour club side in world rugby so we are looking forward to welcoming the game’s world stars to Coventry.
“Many of the players were well known to rugby fans but they are now household names after playing such a big part in the Rugby World Cup for the last six weeks.
“It is without doubt the most star-studded rugby game the Ricoh Arena has ever hosted particularly since Toulon are aiming to create history by winning the competition for the fourth time.
“We have all the plans in place to transform the stadium and as soon as the final whistle blows on Coventry City’s game against Gillingham, we will be taking down the football goals and replacing them with rugby posts and putting in new lines on the pitch.
“It is hard work but really exciting to be involved in such a high-profile sporting weekend and to see our weeks of preparation come to fruition.”
Tickets for Wasps v Toulon are available from £15 for adults and under-10s go free and are available from www.wasps.co.uk or by ringing 024 7678 6411.