Langtree Park is among the 15 potential venues identified by the Rugby Football League for the 2021 World Cup,
Organisers say 80 per cent of the matches will be held in the game’s northern heartland, essentially to minimise travel times, reduce environmental impact and concentrate the focus and excitement, as well as payback for the Government’s pledge of £25million in funding.
Established club venues like St Helens, Warrington and Wigan will be supplemented by showpiece fixtures in the game’s expansion markets of London, the midlands and the north-east, and plan is to use only stadia with capacities of at least 15,000 in an effort to reach the RFL’s target of a million spectators.
The total of 31 matches will be played across 12 venues selected from the following short-list of 15:
1. Wembley, capacity 90,000, has hosted the Challenge Cup final since 1929, staged the 1992 and 1995 World Cup finals as well as the 2013 semi-finals and was the venue for a Four Nations double header in 2011.
2. Old Trafford, capacity 75,700, has been the venue for the Super League Grand Final since 1998 after previously hosting the Premiership final, and staged both the 2000 and 2013 World Cup finals between Australia and New Zealand.
3. The London Stadium, capacity 60,045, organisers were sufficiently encouraged by the attendance of 44,393 for the second Test between England and New Zealand at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park last November to take the Four Nations clash with Australia there on November 13.
4. Etihad Stadium, capacity 60,000, rugby league used to use Manchester City’s old Maine Road ground for Championship finals and the Etihad, built to stage the 2002 Commonwealth Games, drew bumper crowds for Super League’s Magic Weekend in 2013 and 2014.
5. St James’ Park, 52,405, Newcastle United’s ground will host the Magic Weekend for a third successive year in 2017 after attracting a record aggregate crowd of 68,276 in 2016. Playing in the north-east helps maintain links with the Gateshead Thunder club which now shares Kingston Park with Newcastle Falcons.
6. Anfield, 45,000, Liverpool’s iconic home was the venue for Wigan’s World Club Challenge against Penrith Panthers in 1991 and also hosted Super League in 1997 when St Helens switched their fixture against Castleford. It will stage the final of the Ladbrokes Four Nations Series on November 20.
7. Bramall Lane, 32,600, Sheffield United have hosted rugby league neighbours Sheffield Eagles regularly over the last 20 years, including their Challenge Cup fourth-round tie against Hull in 2015.
8. Ricoh Arena, 32,609, Coventry’s state-of-the-art stadium hosted rugby league for the first time in May when Coventry Bears moved a Kingstone Press League 1 fixture with Keighley to Wasps’ home and there will be a Four Nations double-header there on November 5.
9. KCOM Stadium, 25,586, Hull FC’s home has been a popular venue for rugby league internationals over the years and drew a full house for the first Test against New Zealand 12 months ago.
10. DW Stadium, 25,138, Wigan’s home since they moved out of Central Park in 1999, the stadium has hosted six Great Britain Tests and a World Cup quarter-final in 2013.
11. John Smith’s Stadium, 24,500, Huddersfield, the birthplace of rugby league, has been a regular venue for international rugby league since the stadium was opened in 1994 and hosted World Cup matches in 1995, 2000 and 2013.
12. Langtree Park, 18,000, Australia played at St Helens’ modern home in the 2013 World Cup and Hollywood actor Russell Crowe was among a capacity crowd for the World Club Challenge featuring his South Sydney club in 2015.
13. Headingley, 20,500, Leeds’ famous venue has been a regular venue for international rugby league since 1908 and is set for a revamp, including a rebuilding of the South Stand, in time for 2021.
14. Halliwell Jones Stadium, 15,000, Warrington’s home since 2003 has been a regular venue for Challenge Cup semi-finals and hosted a World Cup group game and a quarter-final in 2013.
15 Keepmoat, 15,000, essentially a football ground, Doncaster has been used as a venue for the Challenge Cup semi-finals, most recently in July, and hosted the Four Nations clash between England and France in 2009.