Excitement builds in St Helens ahead of the Rugby League World Cup 2021
With just 50 days to go until kick off, residents are being urged not to miss out on one of the biggest sporting events in the world when the Rugby League World Cup 2021 comes to St Helens this autumn.
Article date: 26 August 2022
Taking place between 15 October and 19 November 2022, organisers are aiming to draw in record crowds, with the men's, women's and wheelchair competitions staged in a single, celebratory event tipped to be the biggest and best Rugby League World Cup yet.
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 Saints 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.
Ahead of the tournament, St Helens town centre will be decorated with Rugby League World Cup branding, including a display on the former Marks and Spencer unit in Church Square, to promote the spectacle coming to town - with the council engaging with local businesses to maximise the benefits the tournament will bring to the local economy.
While children and young people in schools across the borough will be learning about different participating countries' culture and heritage - and a host of pre-match entertainment is also being planned behind the scenes.
As part of a nationwide 50 days to go countdown celebration, residents are invited down to Ruskin Drive Sports Village between 6:00pm-8:00pm on Monday 19 September where they can have their photo taken with the Rugby League World Cup trophies and enjoy an evening of free entertainment.
Encouraging residents and visitors to come to the Totally Wicked Stadium and see some of the world's best athletes in action, St Helens Borough Council's Cabinet Member for Wellbeing, Culture and Heritage, Councillor Anthony Burns, commented:
"St Helens is synonymous with rugby league so we're incredibly excited about being part of the biggest international tournament connected to our great sport.
"Whether you're a die-hard fan or new to the game and fancy a day or night out at a major sporting event in the centre of St Helens, I'm sure it will leave you hooked after 80 minutes of non-stop action, played at the highest level by some of the best athletes on the planet.
"Even before a ball has been kicked or a try scored, I'm delighted to say that many of our grassroots clubs here in the borough have already benefited from the Rugby League World Cup through the CreatedBy project, an initiative the council has match funded - helping clubs grow to nurture the next generation of talent with dreams of their own to play on the biggest sporting stage.
"We proved in 2013 the last time the Rugby League World Cup was held here what great hosts we are, and we're more than ready to do it again."
Kristian Woolf, head coach of Saints and the men's Tongan team, said: "I know full well what the sport of rugby league means to the town of St Helens. The people of St Helens are so passionate and we are all excited about the upcoming Rugby League World Cup.
"My Tongan squad are also excited about coming over here to the UK and in particular to stay here in St Helens. We also play two of our matches at the Totally Wicked Stadium which will be a special occasion for me and my players and one we are all looking forward to.
"It's important as many fans from both St Helens and across the country get behind the tournament and the world stars who will be involved. It is set to be a memorable tournament."
Jon Dutton, Chief Executive of the Rugby League World Cup, added: "We're really looking forward to bringing the Rugby League World Cup to St Helens and it's great to see the excitement already building in the area. We are delighted that our social impact programme has already made a significant investment into the town.
"Supporters of St Helens are some of the most passionate in rugby league and I know they will create a wonderful, welcoming atmosphere for all three games in the town when the tournament begins."
For more information and to book your tickets, visit: www.sthelens.gov.uk/rlwc