A joint bid to bring Rugby League World Cup fixtures to Sheffield in 2021 has been made by Sheffield City Council, Sheffield United, SIV and Sheffield Eagles, and it has passed the first stage of the selection process.
It means some of the world’s top teams could be playing at Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane stadium when the tournament comes to England between 23 October 2021 and 27 November 2021.
It could also mean that games in the Ladies and Wheelchair competitions will be played at Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park and the English Institute of Sport Sheffield. In addition, the city could be hosting one of the competing teams.
The bid, submitted in July this year, is for the Blades’ 32,600 capacity Bramall Lane stadium to stage a number of men’s matches, with games in the women’s tournament and the wheelchair tournament at Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park and the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.
RLWC2021 officials will now make site visits to the city’s facilities and write an assessment report review. A final decision on the host venues will be made in January 2019.
Councillor Mary Lea, Sheffield City Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Parks and Leisure said: “Following on so quickly from the Football Association’s announcement of Sheffield’s key role in its Women’s UEFA Euro championship bid, this is further evidence of Sheffield’s ambition and status as a world class destination for all sport.
“The Rugby League World Cup is a very high-profile, global event, and the rewards of a successful bid could be very substantial, not only in terms of the economic returns, but also in terms of the huge boost to development of the city’s Rugby League traditions, and in terms of the inspiration we know that top flight sport in Sheffield provides to all our citizens, but particularly to young people.
“We are proud to be playing our part as a Council in backing the bid.”
Liam Claffey, chief operating officer at Sheffield Eagles said, “This is a great news and would be an excellent springboard for the development of Rugby League within the city and for the Eagles.
“We have and are continuing to work closely with all parties and we have had positive discussions with RLWC 2021 officials about the desire for the Eagles to be an integral part of the city’s’ bid to help spread Rugby League within the region and for the Rugby League World Cup 2021 to leave a lasting legacy in Sheffield.
“The bid organisers have a great record of hosting high-profile and prestigious events and It would be fantastic to see the RLWC 2021 at our home, the Olympic Legacy Park and across the city, utilising the superb facilities that Sheffield has to offer.”
Dave McCarthy, operations director at Sheffield United, said: “To make the candidate stage for such a prestigious global event is incredible for the club and the city and will generate income which will be reinvested back into the Blades.
“The Rugby League World Cup 2021 team are looking to deliver the most viewed tournament ever, which will showcase Sheffield to a global audience of millions. Through continual investment in the stadium, we’re capable of attracting the biggest and best events to Bramall Lane.
“Sheffield and Bramall Lane are renowned for sporting legacy and we would be extremely proud to work with the organisers to help deliver a long-lasting legacy that celebrates the heritage of the sport and increases the participation and interest in Rugby League across the world.”
The 2021 Rugby League World Cup will be the sixteenth staging of the event. The tournament will be one of the most inclusive and diverse events ever hosted in England, incorporating the Men’s, Women’s and Wheelchair World Cup disciplines.
Andrew Snelling, chief executive of SIV, which operates 13 sport and entertainment facilities in Sheffield, said: “We’re really proud to be part of the team which has helped Sheffield onto the candidate city shortlist. Our sporting facilities are some of the best in the country and it would be a privilege to host this prestigious event. We want to engage and inspire local people through the Rugby League World Cup, make the sport accessible for all ages and abilities and create a lasting legacy.”
The Rt Hon Richard Caborn, Project Lead for Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, said: “This is fantastic news for Sheffield and a credit to our bid team who have worked incredibly hard to reach this stage so far. Sheffield is a passionate rugby city and it would be hugely exciting to see some of the world’s top teams play at Bramall Lane.”