Following the venue announcement for 2021 Rugby League World Cup on home soil, with a historic number of announcements including Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium as a semi-final.
Huddersfield Giants’ John Smith’s Stadium was announced as one of the quarter-final venues, and managing director Richard Thewlis paid triple to a sole individual who made that feat possible for the club.
“This is wonderful news for the Huddersfield area and the credit regarding the bid goes to Martin Gonzales of Kirklees who did a wonderful job in securing this game with his passion, drive and enthusiasm,” said Thewlis. “We at the club will fully support him in his endeavours to achieve the sell out crowd that the event will deserve.”
Among the announcements were the likes of Doncaster, who’s Keepmoat Stadium will host three men’s group games, and South Yorkshire counterpart Sheffield, who will also see its Bramall Lane host group games in the men’s competition.
“I’m very grateful there’s many people to thank,” said Doncaster CEO Carl Hall. “It’s unreal. It’s a game changer for Rugby League, not only in Doncaster but also for Yorkshire on the hole.
“I always say you get what you deserve and we’ve got our rewards for all our hard work. We’re grateful, we’re really lucky and it’s going to be amazing.”
Sheffield Eagles head coach Mark Aston, said: “We are thrilled, this is huge news for Rugby League in the city and for the Eagles and can be a launchpad for both the club and the sport in Sheffield.”
York, who’s Community Stadium (which is still in development and planned to open in Summer 2019) will host a women’s group game and both women’s semi-finals.
“It’s a great decision for the sport and the city,” said York City Knights owner Jon Flatman. “The ladies and girls game in our city and the North of Yorkshire will continue to go from strength to strength. Rugby League is delivery growth in York and North Yorkshire.”
Leigh chairman Mike Latham added: “We’re delighted international Rugby League will continue to be played at Leigh. The Tonga game against Cook Islands in 2013 was a magical experience enjoyed by the whole community and attracted many people who wouldn’t usually go and watch Rugby League.
“Five years on the memories are still very vivid for some people. We’re very proud of the facilities we have got. I’m sure it will be a fitting location to stage such a prestigious tournament that will further highlight Leigh as one of the most important places in world Rugby League.”
However one Wigan councillor has been left furious by their omission.
Speaking to Wigan Today, Coun Molyneux said: “I am extremely disappointed and I can’t understand why Wigan, the home to one of the most famous teams in the world, was not given any games to host throughout the tournament. “I’m sure this feeling is shared among fellow Wigan residents, however, we will of course support Leigh’s fantastic achievement proudly and look forward to the games.”
Full details of the list of venues for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup can be found here.