St.Helens has been selected as a training location for two nations set to compete at the 2021 Rugby League World Cup with bases at Ruskin Drive and Cowley International College.
Tournament organisers have revealed the 16 towns and cities across the country which will act as training and team base camps, with St.Helens joining major cities such as London, Manchester and Liverpool on the list.
St Helens Council’s £3.6m Ruskin Drive Sports Village in Dentons Green, which reopened in July 2017 following a major redevelopment, is home to na RFL-certified floodlit artificial rugby pitch.
Nearby Cowley International College boasts top class training facilities to an International standard and is used by Saints first team.
Qualification is still ongoing across the men’s, women’s and wheelchair tournaments and all nations will be confirmed in time for the draw, which takes place on November 27.
Following the draw, each of the towns and cities will be allocated to a nation allowing planning to commence for adopt a team initiatives and local community engagement events.
Saints' chief executive, Mike Rush, said: “For the town to play host to two International Rugby League teams is a huge honour.
“We look forward to learning about and embracing the culture this will bring to our community.”
Welcoming the latest announcement, the Mayor of St Helens, Pat Ireland, said: “This underscores St Helens’ place at the heart of this global celebration of Rugby League. We will work to make sure the visiting teams pass on their skills to our grass roots.
“Ruskin Drive is one of the finest multi-purpose sports complexes in the region, and some of rugby league’s biggest stars train day in day out at Cowley International College. The teams lucky enough to use these excellent facilities will certainly have everything they need to prepare properly for their games.
“Hosting Australia against Fiji in 2013 showed the world how welcoming St.Helens is as a host for a major sporting event, and we’re more than ready to do it all again.”
Earlier this year, the borough was confirmed as one of 21 host venues at the Rugby League World Cup 2021, with the 18,000 capacity Totally Wicked Stadium – considered to be the best
purpose-built club rugby stadium in the country – securing three men’s group matches.