Overseas ‘interest’ in staging games at England’s Rugby League World Cup
Some matches at the 2021 Rugby League World Cup, which is being hosted by England, could take place overseas, according to Jon Dutton, chief executive of the tournament.
Last year, England beat off a rival bid from USA and Canada to stage the tournament for the second time in three editions.
In its winning bid, England’s Rugby Football League said that 12 venues across the country, including some top soccer stadia, would stage the 31 matches at the 2021 Rugby League World Cup.
However, Dutton told the UK’s Guardian that cities in France and Ireland could also stage games from the tournament.
He said: “The contract with the government is to stage the tournament in England but if a strong bid came forward somewhere else we’ve got to listen to it.”
The UK government has pledged £25 million ($33.5 million) to support the event and is committing an additional £10 million towards a legacy programme.
In its bid, the RFL also committed to playing 80 per cent of the tournament’s games across the north of England, the sport’s spiritual home in the UK.
Dutton added: “We’ve been really pleased, and even quite surprised, with the interest. We’re up to 40 potential venues now, which is great. It continues to rise, and we’ll have workshops in January where these towns and cities will find out how to put their bid together, then they’ve got seven months to put it into place.
“Yes, we’ve got towns and cities elsewhere who are interested.”
When England last staged the World Cup in 2013, matches from the group stages were hosted in Ireland, Wales and France.
Three different venues in England hosted the knockout rounds.
London will “absolutely” stage games, according to Dutton, who said that the English capital is “critically important” to the tournament.
The RFL is expected to have announced all the venues for the World Cup by the end of next year.
This year’s World Cup, in which England reached the final, was co-hosted by Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.