Newcastle to kick-off Rugby League World Cup 2021

Newcastle will host Rugby League World Cup 2021
Newcastle will host Rugby League World Cup 2021

Newcastle is to host the official opening ceremony and first game when the Rugby League World Cup comes to England in 2021.

As one of 28 cities to bid for matches, Newcastle has been chosen to kick-off the tournament, billed to be the biggest and best in international rugby league.

Up to 14 stadia across the country have been selected, with St James’ Park hosting England’s opening game on Saturday 23 October 2021.

As well as the opening game, Newcastle will host a series of events including an opening ceremony, fan zone and a festival of rugby league. It is estimated that the event could bring in £13m to the local economy.

Cllr Kim McGuinness, cabinet member for culture, sport and public health at Newcastle City Council said: “The Rugby League World Cup 2021 is set to be an unmissable event and we’re delighted to be playing a key role in it.

“We’ve got the experience, talent and passion to put on a spectacular opening ceremony and provide a great experience for the fans.

“This is another amazing opportunity to showcase our great city to a global audience as we give a warm Geordie welcome to tens of thousands of rugby fans and visitors for this event.

”We’re proud to be a host city as the values of Newcastle fit really well with the values of rugby league – we’re about inclusion and equality, which is at the heart of this tournament with the women’s, men’s and wheelchair World Cup all receiving equal billing.

“Furthermore, as a host city we have a commitment to legacy, benefiting our residents for years to come and inspiring more people and children to get into sport.”

Newcastle has a growing reputation as a rugby city due to the many high-profile union and league games it has hosted, including hosting rugby league’s Magic Weekend for four years in a row, three games in Rugby Union’s 2015 World Cup and the upcoming Heineken Champions Cup and European Rugby Challenge Cup which will be played at St James’ this May.

The city’s iconic destination, world-class facilities and reputation for providing a great fan experience helped secure the opening ceremony and England’s first fixture in the tournament.

Held every four years, the games are the pinnacle event in the rugby league calendar and 2021 will see games staged throughout England.

Jon Dutton, Chief Executive of the Rugby League World Cup 2021 said: “Newcastle will welcome the world on October 23rd 2021 when St James’ Park will play host to the men’s opening ceremony and the first England fixture.

“Following four successful years hosting Magic Weekend, the atmosphere and appetite for rugby league in Newcastle is growing, and it is fantastic that the city will play such an integral role in the biggest sporting team tournament of 2021.”

The tournament is set to be one of the most inclusive and diverse events ever hosted in England, promoting the three simultaneous disciplines of the men’s, women’s and wheelchair World Cup.

The successful bid is a partnership of Newcastle City Council, NewcastleGateshead Initiative, Newcastle United Football Club and Newcastle Thunder Rugby League Club.

As part of the Newcastle bid, a series of exciting and ambitious community development lead up and legacy programmes aimed at growing sports at all levels were announced.

Further details on the lead up and legacy plans will be revealed in the coming months.