Rugby League 2021 World Cup venues announced, with final to be played at Old Trafford
Emirates Stadium, Anfield and Elland Road to also stage matches
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 29/01/19 10:40am
The 2021 Rugby League World Cup will be almost exclusively based in the north of England, with just two of the 31 matches taking place south of Sheffield.
Wembley has been ignored, but the Emirates Stadium in London will host rugby league for the first time, with the home of Arsenal handed one of the semi-finals, while Coventry will stage a group match at the Ricoh Arena.
The rest of the matches will take place deep in rugby league's traditional heartland, with occasional forays into the north-east, as organisers comfortably meet a Government target of holding at least 80 per cent of the tournament in the Northern Powerhouse.
It is a far cry from 2013, the last time the Rugby Football League organised the World Cup, when matches were staged in such far-flung places as Limerick, Neath, Bristol and Avignon.
This time, despite an increase in the number of teams from 14 to 16, organisers opted not to venture outside England and, after landing a £25m grant from the Government, agreed to concentrate on the north.
Among other eye-catching venues from the announcement in Manchester on Tuesday morning, Elland Road will stage the other semi-final while Old Trafford will again host the final after drawing a crowd of 74,468 in 2013 for the clash between Australia and New Zealand.
Newcastle's St James' Park, which has lost the lucrative Magic Weekend to Anfield this year, has won the right to stage the opening ceremony, which will be followed by the opening game featuring England.
Middlesbrough's Riverside Stadium is something of a surprise choice, while organisers will take three matches to a purpose-built 8,000-capacity stadium in Workington.
The stadium, to be developed by Allerdale Borough Council, is expected to be completed by the spring of 2021 at a cost of £15m and will be the new home for both League One club Workington and the town's football team.
The men's, women's and wheelchair tournaments will all be played concurrently for the first time, with the women's final taking place as a double-header with the men's event at Old Trafford.
Liverpool's M&S Bank Arena Liverpool will host the wheelchair final.
Jon Dutton, chief executive of Rugby League World Cup 2021, said: "This was an incredibly tough process, given the large number of interested parties and the impressive nature of their bids.
"With so many competitive bids, we're confident that our chosen hosts will help play a role in delivering the greatest, and most inclusive, Rugby League World Cup of all time."
The draw will take place on November 27, two years out from the final.
Rugby League World Cup 2021 Venues
Newcastle (St James' Park), Sheffield (Bramall Lane and English Institute of Sport), Doncaster (Keepmoat Stadium), Hull (KCOM Stadium), York (York Community Stadium), Huddersfield (John Smith's Stadium), Leeds (Elland Road and Headingley Stadium), Liverpool (Anfield and M&S Bank Arena), Manchester (Old Trafford), Preston (First training base to be confirmed), St. Helens (Totally Wicked Stadium), Warrington (Halliwell Jones Stadium), Leigh & Wigan (Leigh Sports Village), Bolton (University of Bolton Stadium), London (Emirates Stadium and Copper Box Arena), Middlesbrough (Riverside Stadium), Workington (Workington Community Stadium), Coventry (Ricoh Arena)