Ireland among four countries to stage Rugby League World Cup
THE 2013 Rugby League World Cup will be staged in four countries, the Rugby Football League announced today.
Eighteen venues spread across England, Wales, Ireland and France for the group stages and quarter-finals of the 14-team tournament were unveiled at a press conference at Salford's MediaCityUK.
They include Avignon and Perpignan in France and Limerick's Thomond Park, a rugby union stronghold which earlier this month drew a 3,000-plus crowd for its first rugby league fixture.
Officials also announced six other venues which will host participating teams while venues for the opening ceremony, the semi-finals and the final, as well as the precise fixtures, will be confirmed early in the new year.
Organisers are using the new grounds which St Helens and Salford will move into for the start of the 2012 Super League season, as well as the planned Pow Beck Stadium in Whitehaven, but Widnes' Halton Stadium misses out because its synthetic pitch has not been sanctioned by the Rugby League International Federation.
The quarter-finals will be held at Headingley, Wrexham, Warrington and Wigan.
Tournament director Nigel Wood said: "We experienced massive interest in hosting matches from all across Europe and we have had to make some tough decisions.
"We are excited that the tournament will visit established world-class rugby league venues but will also visit some new locations, including Bristol and Whitehaven, where we see unique opportunities to grow the game and to deliver a lasting legacy for our sport."
A total of 34 bids were submitted to the RFL by the July deadline, and the following were successful:
:: Avignon - The Parc des Sports, which drew a crowd of 16,866 for France's recent international against England, will host a group match.
:: Bristol - The Memorial Ground will stage a group match, while Filton College will be used as a team training venue.
:: Halifax - The renovated Shay Stadium will host a group match.
:: Huddersfield - The Galpharm Stadium, a semi-final venue in 2000, will host a group match.
:: Hull - Both the KC Stadium and Craven Park will host group matches with the city also hosting two team base camps and team training venues.
:: Leeds - Headingley will host a group match and a quarter-final while two teams will set up base camps in the city along with a team training venue being utilised.
:: Limerick - Thomond Park, which hosted a first rugby league match last month, will be a venue for a group match.
:: Perpignan - The Stade Gilbert Brutus, home of Catalan Dragons and a regular Test venue, will host a group match.
:: Neath - The Gnoll, home of South Wales Scorpions, will host a group match.
:: Rochdale - Spotland Stadium, which is the home of Championship One club Hornets, will host a group match.
:: Salford - The Reds' new City of Salford Stadium at Barton will host a group match and the city will also host a team base camp.
:: St Helens - Saints' new £26million Langtree Park will host a group match.
:: Warrington - The enlarged Halliwell Jones Stadium will host a group match and quarter-final. The town will also host a team base camp and the University of Chester will be used as a team training venue.
:: Whitehaven - The planned Pow Beck Stadium, whose initial capacity of 3,200 can be expanded to 5,000 with the use of temporary stands, will host group matches, with the Cumbria Sports Academy used as a team training venue.
:: Wigan - The Leigh Sports Village will host a group match and will be used as a training venue while Wigan's DW Stadium will host a quarter-final.
:: Wrexham - The Racecourse Stadium, home of North Wales Crusaders, will host a group match and a quarter-final, while Wrexham will also host a team base camp and training venue.
The following venues will act as hosts:
:: Bolton - will be a team base camp with Bolton Arena's facilities used as a team training venue.
:: Bradford - the Bulls' Tong High School facilities will be used as a team training venue.
:: Manchester - will host a team base camp and will also provide a team training venue.
:: Preston - The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) will provide team training facilities at UCLan Sports Arena with Preston also hosting a team base camp.
:: Widnes - will host a team base camp and the Stobart Stadium will be a training venue.
:: Workington - will host a team base camp.
The tournament will consist of two pools of four and two of three.
England have been drawn alongside Australia, Fiji and Ireland in Group A while holders New Zealand will face Papua New Guinea, Samoa and France in Group B.
Scotland will face Tonga and Italy in Group C and Wales have been drawn against the Cook Islands and the USA in Group D.