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500 Days to go until the Rugby League World Cup 2021 comes to York

With 500 days to go until the opening fixture of the Rugby League World Cup 2021 (RLWC2021), tournament organisers have announced that York will act as a host for the current holders of the women’s trophy Australia, as well as New Zealand, France and Cook Islands (Women’s) and the New Zealand men’s team. A number of games will also be hosted in the city, including both women’s semi-finals.

News of the teams to be based in York was first announced by BBC Look North’s Harry Gration on the Visit York social media channels this morning (10th June) as part of the Rugby League World Cup’s ‘500 Days to go’ campaign and new brand reveal.

Across the city, partners have been working with the Rugby League World Cup team to bring the event to York – including City of York Council, York City Knights, Make It York, GLL, York St John University, University of York and Queen Ethelberga’s – with the games set to be held at the new LNER community stadium next year.

Leaders from organisations across the city and figures in the York community have commented on today’s announcement:

Cllr Keith Aspden, Leader of the Council, said: “To have both the men’s and women’s team from New Zealand, an iconic rugby league nation, is excellent news and a reflection of the fantastic city York is and the quality sports facilities and accommodation available.”

“We look forward to welcoming them and the women’s world champions Australia, the Cook Islands women team and France women’s team staying in the city. Today’s news is the result of hard work across York to bring the Rugby League World Cup to the city and I would like to thank everyone, including our partners, residents and local businesses, who have supported these efforts.  In the meantime, we will continue to focus our efforts on the city’s recovery plan, so York can build back better ahead of the RLWC in 2021.”

Councillor Darryl Smalley, Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Communities said: “To have such a great mix of countries playing, training and staying in the city is amazing and the games that will take place in the LNER Community Stadium are not to be missed. This tournament will be viewed across the world and I have no doubt these teams inspire a new generation of athletes here in York. We all look forward to welcoming them and their fans to our city - showcasing York on the global stage.”

Sean Bullick, Managing Director, Make It York said: "We are delighted that York will be one of the host cities for the Rugby League World Cup in 2021 and that we will be welcoming such fantastic international teams to stay in the city for the duration of the tournament.

Looking ahead to 2021, this will be a key event in the city's calendar and will really showcase York on the international stage with a sport that is ever growing in popularity. We are hugely looking forward to hosting the event, which is so prestigious for the city and to working with the Rugby League World Cup team and organisations across York to make this a fantastic celebratory event for residents and visitors to enjoy. "

Jon Flatman, Chairman, York City Knights said: “This is the most excellent news for the city, the region and World Class Sport. I would like to express my thanks to the City of York Council, Make It York, both Universities and hoteliers for working in partnership to create an offer which we hope is life changing for local residents and the wider community. York is the most wonderful city to live, learn and enjoy and I am sure the region will take all of the teams to heart and make them very welcome. Our combined challenge is to create a long lasting legacy for sport, health, business and community cohesion. Visiting teams, we welcome you to a host city which we know, will leave positive life long memories.”

Harry Gration MBE said: “News that the RLWC is coming to York will be a fantastic boost to  the city, the York City Knights and the new community stadium.

The Knights have done a great job in establishing a core of devoted fans of the game and here is the opportunity to build that into a lasting legacy.”

York St John University’s Chief Operating Officer Rob Hickey said: “As we navigate through the impact of Covid19, I hope we can look forward to the return of great sporting fixtures, and the Rugby League World Cup here in York promises to be a very special event. York St John University is delighted to show support for both Women's World Cup semi-finals and group stage matches and we look forward to welcoming teams from around the world to our city.”

Amy Martin, Chief Executive of Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate said: “This is incredibly exciting news. We are proud to be part of such a strong York offer, in supporting what will be an unforgettable experience for all of us. Our Sports Performance Pathway is such an important part of what we offer at Queen Ethelburga’s, and to be part of this globally watched event will have a hugely positive impact on our students and other aspiring athletes across the city.”

RLWC2021 has today also revealed new branding for the tournament, celebrating the power of together, focusing on human interest stories and emotional connections, with the goal of connecting with a universal audience.

The new branding will also include bespoke elements from York, drawing on recognisable icons and displaying the sense of civic pride the city has. RLWC2021 will be asking people from York to vote on the icons that make up their custom patterns in the coming months.

Jon Dutton, RLWC2021 Chief Executive, said: “York is a wonderful city with a rich history and we’re all thrilled that it’s playing such a major role in Rugby League World Cup 2021. The city will be hosting some of the biggest names in the sport and a wealth of incredible talent in 2021 and I know the people of York will be incredibly welcoming hosts.

“Our refreshed tournament identity and today’s nation base announcement can serve as an exciting reminder for the people of York of what’s to come in 2021 as we continue to build momentum towards what promises to be the biggest and best Rugby League World Cup in history.”

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