The England rugby union team is set to play a home match away from Twickenham for the first time in more than 20 years, with Newcastle’s St James’ Park lined up for a game next year.

The Times reports that St James’ Park, home of Premier League football club Newcastle United, will stage a World Cup warm-up match between England and Italy next summer.

England has not played a home match away from Twickenham since 1998, when Huddersfield was the destination for World Cup qualifiers against Italy and the Netherlands.

According to The Times, the Rugby Football Union had considered Manchester’s Old Trafford and Etihad Stadium as possible host venues before deciding on St James’ Park.

The 52,000-seat stadium is best known as the home of Newcastle United but it has also staged rugby league’s Magic Weekend for the past four years. The venue will also host rugby union’s Champions Cup, Challenge Cup and Continental Shield finals in 2019.

RFU chief executive Steve Brown said, according to The Times: “It’s a good thing. It’s always a commercial challenge, but I think the case has been made for us considering more games in the north.”

St James’ Park also hosted matches during England’s staging of the 2015 Rugby World Cup. England will play at the stadium ahead of the 2019 World Cup in Japan next autumn.

Image: Martin Le Roy