The Rugby League World Cup 2021 has announced the 21 chosen host venues for the tournament taking place in England in two years’ time.
The RLWC2021 will see the men’s, women’s and wheelchair tournaments played concurrently for the first time.
In a UK first, Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium will host the men’s and women’s finals in a double-header on 27 November 2021.
Arsenal Football Club’s Emirates Stadium in London is to stage rugby league for the first time since it opened in 2006, hosting the men’s semi-final, whilst Leeds’ Elland Road hosts the other men’s semi-final.
Elsewhere in the capital, Wembley Stadium has been left off the list.
Tournament organisers have met the Government target of hosting at least 80% of the tournament in the ‘Northern Powerhouse.’
Among the northern host cities and towns are Doncaster, Huddersfield, Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and York, the latter awarded both women’s semi-finals.
Whilst the DW Stadium, home of current Super League champions Wigan Warriors, has been ignored, core rugby league venues do feature, including St. Helens (Totally Wicked Stadium), Warrington (Halliwell Jones Stadium) and Leigh and Workington (Leigh Sports Village).
Newcastle’s St. James’ Park will host the men’s opening ceremony on 23 October, whilst Anfield, the home of Liverpool FC, will host the women’s equivalent.
Football stadia feature heavily across the tournament plan, including Liverpool’s Anfield, Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane, Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium and Elland Road in Leeds.
The Uk’s City of Culture in 2021, Coventry, will also host a group match at its Ricoh Arena.
The RLWC2021 will also become the biggest ever tournament for wheelchair rugby league. London’s Copper Box Arena is to host England’s group at the Queen Elizabeth Park, whilst Liverpool’s M&S Bank Arena has been designated the wheelchair final venue.
Jon Dutton, Chief Executive of the Rugby League World Cup 2021, said: “With so many competitive bids, we’re confident that our chosen hosts will help play a role in delivering the greatest, and most inclusive, Rugby League World Cup of all time.
“Each and every host now has the opportunity to galvanise and inspire their respective communities ahead of the competing nations arriving in England.
“With all three tournaments running concurrently, RLWC2021 will give the chance for people across the country to engage in a variety of ways and really look forward to October and November 2021.”
Mims Davies, Minister for Sport and Civil Society, added: "The UK is renowned for putting on some of the biggest and best sporting events in the world and the Rugby League World Cup 2021 will be no exception.
“It is an exceptional opportunity to grow the sport. We are investing £25 million to help put on a fantastic event, reach new fans and improve facilities, so the tournament leaves a real legacy.”
With the venues now confirmed, the draw for the RLWC2021 will take place later this year on 27th November 2019, two years out from the final.
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