Rugby League World Cup 2021 is today celebrating 50 days to go until the biggest, best and most inclusive tournament kicks off at St James’ Park as hosts England welcome Samoa men on 15 October.
The milestone has been marked today with organisers treating the people of Newcastle to a performance outside the famous Newcastle Theatre Royal by a selection of children from the RLWC2021 Dance Movement Group, which is part of the RLWC2021 Cultural Festival that was announced earlier this week.
The children took part in a multi-cultural performance of different music genres, which included a traditional Samoan Siva Tau, which will be performed by the national team prior to matches, including a packed-out St James’ Park at the tournament’s opening fixture.
Whilst in St Helens the town centre will be decorated with Rugby League World Cup branding, including a window display in the former Marks and Spencer unit in Church Square, to promote the spectacle coming to town. While a host of pre-match entertainment is being planned behind the scenes.
During the tournament, St Helens and Liverpool will host the Tongan and Italian men’s national teams – while three men’s group fixtures will be played at Saints’ 18,000-capacity Totally Wicked Stadium, voted the third-best purpose-built rugby stadium in the world.
First up, Tonga – coached by our Head Coach Kristian Woolf and made up of several Saints players – will take on Papua New Guinea on Tuesday 18 October, 7:30pm, a tie many think could be one of the games of the tournament.
Then Tonga – ranked second in the world – play Wales on Monday 24 October at 7:30pm.
The final game at the Totally Wicked Stadium will see reigning champions, Australia, coached by the legendary Mal Meninga and made up of a wealth of NRL stars – take on Italy on Saturday 29 October at 7:30pm.
For more information and to book your tickets, visit: www.sthelens.gov.uk/rlwc
Rugby League World Cup 2021 Chief Executive, Jon Dutton, said: “We are very excited to be creating such a symbolic and iconic moment in Newcastle as we begin the final countdown to the tournament kicking off in the city on 15 October.
“With just 50 days to go until the biggest, best and most inclusive Rugby League World Cup in history, we have stamped our footprint at the heart of the city and I am calling on everyone with a passion for rugby league to get involved and become advocates for this tournament to help us make it the greatest tournament in the sport’s 127-year history.
“Tickets for all of the tournament fixtures are selling very well, with the tournament opener between England and Samoa on course to sell out and we are expecting a fantastic atmosphere at St James’ Park.”
50 days to go also marked the beginning of The National Lottery Trophies Tour which will see the tournament’s three trophies travel across the country visiting the host towns and cities which will play a crucial role in delivering all 61 matches before finishing back in Newcastle ahead of the opening game.
As well as visiting key venues and communities, The National Lottery Trophies Tour will also take in Super League, Championship and League One clubs and a variety of other exciting events throughout the 50 days and will visit Huddersfield, the birthplace of rugby league, on Monday 29 August to celebrate the sport’s 127th birthday.
RLWC2021’s recently unveiled mascot, RugBee, was also a key figure on the day taking part in a photocall at the Monument before heading down to another prominent Newcastle landmark, The Tyne Bridge, and venturing on a zipwire across the river. It was a typically industrious day for RugBee, who will be making their way around the country as part of the Trophies Tour before being a key part of every one of Rugby League World Cup’s 61 matches.
As well as hosting the tournament opener at St James’ Park, there will be a fantastic atmosphere throughout the city on the opening weekend with the Official RLWC2021 Fan Village being set up on Newcastle Quayside on Friday 14th and Saturday 15th October.
Running from underneath the Tyne Bridge, through to the Gateshead Millennium Bridge, the RLWC2021 Fan Village will have a range of family-friendly activities, food and drink stalls, activations from RLWC2021 partners, music and big screens, plus a fireworks display on Saturday evening to complete the festivities.
Dutton added: “The opening weekend of the tournament is set to be a true festival of rugby league and will provide real momentum for 61 matches which will culminate with all three finals being held in Manchester over the 18 and 19 November.
“We saw with the Women’s Euro’s how the country really got behind the tournament after England’s women got off to such a great start and with all three of our England teams in with a great chance of progressing to their respective finals the tournament will only get more exciting as we build towards that finals weekend in Manchester.”