Reigning world champions, Australia – along with Tonga, Italy, Wales and Papua New Guinea – will play in St Helens next year as part of the Rugby League World Cup.
Tonga – who are coached by Saints Head Coach, Kristian Woolf, and among the favourites to win the tournament – will play two matches, going head-to-head with Papa New Guinea and Wales. While Italy, who, together with Tonga will train in St Helens Borough during their stay in England, will battle it out with 11 time winners, Australia.
The men’s group fixtures are evening games and will be played at Saints’ 18,000 capacity Totally Wicked Stadium, considered by many to be the best purpose-built club rugby stadium in the country – on the following dates:
- 26th October – Tonga vs Papua New Guinea – 7:30pm
- 1st November – Tonga vs Wales – 7:30pm
- 6th November – Australia vs Italy – 7:30pm
Liverpool – where Tonga and Italy will also be based during the tournament – will also stage three matches:
- England vs Canada (Women’s) – Anfield (Saturday 13th November) – 12.00pm
- Men’s Quarter-Final (Teams TBC) – Anfield (Saturday 13th November) – 14.30pm
- Wheelchair Final (Teams TBC) – M&S Bank Arena (Friday 26th November) – 19.30pm
Welcoming the announcement, St Helens Council Leader, David Baines, said: “I’m really looking forward to the Rugby League World Cup, and the fact that St Helens is hosting Tonga and Italy for training and some really big games at the Totally Wicked Stadium is great for our borough.
“It’s going to be a huge event and the games we’ll be hosting at Saints are absolute crackers. My family and I will be getting tickets and we can’t wait.”
St Helens Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health, Leisure, Libraries, Arts & Heritage, Councillor Anthony Burns, added:
“The Rugby League World Cup 2021 is going to a be a sensational event and now that the fixtures have been announced, we can look forward to welcoming the Australian, Tongan, Welsh, Italian and Papua New Guinean men’s national teams to our borough.
“For St Helens Borough to be chosen to be part of a global celebration of rugby league is a recognition of our rugby league and sporting heritage, and the world-class training and playing facilities we boast, including of course the fantastic Totally Wicked Stadium, home of the Saints.
“It’s also an opportunity to increase the borough’s profile nationally and internationally, supporting our aims of raising aspirations in the borough as a place to live and visit.
“We proved during the last World Cup back in 2013 how welcoming our borough is, and we’re more than ready to do it all again.”
St Helens R.F.C. legend, Paul Wellens, who is one of the assistant coaches for the England national team, said: “I know all too well what the Rugby League World Cup means to coaches, players and fans alike. To play in a World Cup really is special and the fact my home town, St Helens, is hosting two teams and three men’s international matches is truly something to savour.
“Two of those fixtures to be played at our St Helens home involve Tonga who are of course coached by my colleague and Head Coach, Kristian Woolf, so those two fixtures in particular are going to be extra special for everyone involved in the Club and the town.
“I am also lucky to be part of the England coaching staff for the upcoming World Cup so cannot wait for it all to kick off and I am sure it will be memorable for all involved.”
Jon Dutton, RLWC2021 Chief Executive, said: “This is a huge moment for the tournament and for fans in our host cities and towns as we reveal the full fixture schedule.
“The tournament has been gaining momentum over recent months and fans can now look forward to being part of this unique global event. With match dates and locations confirmed, the excitement will only intensify.
“RLWC2021 will bring together the very best that the sport has to offer, and you can see from the schedule that there is no end of world class, not-to-be-missed matches, across all three tournaments.
“It Is an exciting day for all our Rugby League fans and communities across England who will be proud and brilliant hosts to the travelling nations as together we deliver the biggest and best Rugby League World Cup to date.”
The overall impact of St Helens Borough’s involvement in the Rugby League World Cup, tipped to be the biggest and best one to date, is expected to boost the local economy by more than £3m and will benefit the grassroots game through a number of legacy projects.
To be held in England in the October and November, organisers are aiming to draw in record crowds at the 2021 tournament, with the men’s, women’s and wheelchair competitions staged in a single, celebratory event – making it the biggest Rugby League World Cup yet.
Visit www.RLWC2021.com for more information, for details on how to sign up to receive ticket alerts and all the latest news first.