In case you missed it on Thursday, there was confirmation from a senior figure that one England game in the upcoming Four Nations tournament at the end of this year WILL take place in London.
That’s surely good news for the game – but it does leave the RFL and those planning the Four Nations with a bit of a dilemma on their hands.
After taking a game in last year’s series against New Zealand down to the Olympic Stadium, it means there is suddenly more than one option in the capital for a game of international Rugby League.
In fact, there’s more than one or two: here’s four venues that could potentially house a London Test match this year. Agree with us? Or have we forgotten a stadium? Let us know on social media.
We’ll start with the obvious two; beginning with Wembley Stadium. The home of the Challenge Cup final is a remarkable venue, and always looks fantastic when filled with Rugby League fans. Having travelled to both Wembley and the Olympic Stadium this year, Wembley seems to be the ground that feels more like a top-flight sporting cauldron. That is a big plus point, but the stumbling block could be trying to sell Wembley out. It has a much higher capacity than the Olympic Stadium, which could lean those in charge away from Wembley.
If Wembley isn’t the desired choice, there’s the alternative of taking a game to the Olympic Stadium. It was a wonderful venue and despite clearly being in transition due to it being converted into a football ground, there was still a lot to offer. It’s a smaller capacity too, so if there’s a lack of ambition to go after selling out Wembley, selling England v Australia out there would be much easier. One stumbling block could be that West Ham will already be tenants of the ground by then – so it’s finding a date when they’re not in, so to speak.
The home of top-flight football side Arsenal, the Emirates Stadium is the third-largest ground in England – behind the two traditionally used for Rugby League finals, Wembley and Old Trafford. A capcacity of 60,272 makes it feasible to sell out for a top Four Nations game, but the issue again would be negotiating a deal with Arsenal to find a free weekend in the calendar. You also feel that of all the football grounds in London, Arsenal would be least keen to have a rugby game hosted on their pitch.
This might seem like a ludicrously left-field decision, but Rugby League has been held at Twickenham before – and it’s had reasonable success. It would be 12 months on from England’s spectacular failure in the Rugby World Cup, when they lost to Australia at Twickenham. Imagine the RFL negotiating a deal to get England v Australia there, RL fans selling it out and making it an occasion to remember?