Squads on the Tyne to usher in World Cup

ONE of the biggest-ever festivals of Rugby League will kick-start this year’s World Cup in style, with teams from across the country signing up to be part of the Squads on the Tyne event from October 14-16.

Staged by the Newcastle Rugby Foundation with support from tournament organisers, Newcastle City Council and the North of Tyne Combined Authority, the festival is at Kingston Park, home of Newcastle Thunder, which will host three Group B games after the city’s St James’ Park stages the Saturday, October 15 tournament opener between England and Samoa.

Open to teams from across the Rugby League community, including schools, clubs, mixed touch, masters, PDRL and LDRL, the festival is free to enter.

The action begins on the Friday with teams from primary and secondary schools taking to the pitch before sides from junior clubs – Under 7s through to Under 16s – enjoy their games on the Saturday.

Girls’ rugby will be the focus on Sunday 16 before Scotland face Italy at Kingston Park, while Masters, PDRL, LDRL and touch rugby will be played over the course of each of the three days.

Teams from as far afield as St Helens, Hull and Cumbria are already booked in, and there is still time for others to enter.

Melanie Magee, head of the Newcastle Rugby Foundation, said: “We are thrilled to be hosting one of the biggest festivals of Rugby League ever staged.

“Our thanks go to the North of Tyne Combined Authority for supporting our plans to stage such an inclusive celebration of the sport.

“The continued support of Newcastle City Council is also appreciated, and we are expecting teams from across the United Kingdom and beyond.

“We look forward to extending our famous Geordie welcome to all.”

RLWC2021 social impact director Tracy Power said: “Communities are at the heart of the World Cup, and the Squads on the Tyne Festival is a great way to celebrate the ‘Power of Together’ and kick-off the tournament.

“To host PDRL and LDRL teams as well as the Masters (over 35s) participants displays the inclusive nature of the festival.

“It is fantastic that community players will have the opportunity to watch the best players compete in the World Cup on the same weekend that the festival takes place.”

Councillor Glen Sanderson, North of Tyne cabinet member for culture, creative and rural and the leader of Northumberland County Council said: “It’s fantastic to see a high-profile event like the Rugby League World Cup staged in this region, bringing a range of positive economic and social rewards.

“The Squads on the Tyne festival harnesses the enthusiasm towards the tournament to engage people from all walks of life to participate in a healthy and enjoyable way.

“We hope that people will continue to benefit in the long term, whether it be playing, volunteering, working or spectating.

“We are delighted to be supporting the festival and look forward to seeing it in all its glory in October.”