Just weeks until Rugby League World Cup 2013 rolls into Rochdale, the town is preparing to welcome supporters and fans from across the globe.
Fiji play Ireland at Spotland Stadium at 8pm on Monday 28 October, and Fiji will be Rochdale’s adopted nation for the duration of the tournament which kicks off 2 days after the opening ceremony at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
The Mayor, Councillor Peter Rush will host a civic ceremony and Fijian flag raising on 22 October to officially welcome the Fijian national team to the borough.
For Rochdale, it’s been nearly two years build up to the world cup, since it was announced back in November 2011 that the town had been successful in its ambitious bid to host a fixture in the tournament.
Councillor Rush said it will be a pleasure to welcome the Fijian national team to the town hall. “No doubt it will be a fantastic evening. We are very much looking forward to the game in Rochdale, in what has also been a memorable year for Rugby League already, with Rochdale Hornets winning last month’s Championship One Play Off Final. It’s good for Rugby League and more welcome news for the borough … so we are very proud to be hosting the world cup.”
With a thriving Irish community in Greater Manchester, and Rochdale boasting the biggest UK Fijian community outside London, the Group A clash in Rugby League World Cup 2013 is set to be one of the most eagerly awaited games in the group stages.
Phillip Rokotuni, joint secretary of the Rochdale Fijian Association said Rugby means a lot in Fiji:
“It’s massive, and our friends in Fiji are all talking about this month’s game … they are very proud that it is being staged in Rochdale.”
Three generations of the Ratu family have played for Rochdale Hornets, and Mike Ratu Senior said the Fijian side will see it almost like a home game:
“It will be a great evening, the atmosphere will be amazing and I’m sure there will be lots of colourful clothing! It’ll certainly be something different, a real spectacle. We have a strong squad and they will really be up for this one. For me, to play for the town was absolutely amazing, but to see the world cup come to Rochdale and Fiji to come over and play in the biggest sporting event ever held here is very special.”
Rochdale based Ged Corcoran played for Ireland from 2004-2011 and said he expects a lot of support behind Ireland:
“We have a great Irish community in this region… I hope many will be coming down to support their national team. With both teams looking to get a flying start to the tournament, it really will be special to bring that atmosphere to Rochdale. It’s not often anyone gets to go to a world cup. It will be good to look back and say you were there when the world cup was played in Rochdale!”
The match between Fiji and Ireland will be played at Spotland Stadium on Monday 28 October, kick off 8pm.
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