Tees Valley
Rebecca Wayman

Tees Valley chosen for Rugby League World Cup 2021 venue

Announced today (January 29), Tees Valley has been confirmed as one of the host venues for the Rugby League World Cup 2021.

It will host part of the major international competition for the World Cup in autumn 2021, following a successful bid led by the Tees Valley Combined Authority.

Around 100 people involved in the bid, along with pupils from local schools and a rugby league team, heard the news at an event at Middlesbrough Football Club’s Riverside Stadium as the announcement was broadcast live by the BBC from Manchester.

The bid could give the region an economic boost of up to £8m, attracting tens of thousands of global rugby fans to the area. This winning bid will also work in support of Tees Valley’s application to be named UK City of Culture 2025.

Tees Valley Mayor, Ben Houchen, said: “This is a major coup for the Tees Valley, backed by a fantastic bid that showed why we would be a perfect fit for the Rugby League World Cup.

“We’re already punching above our weight and this will see our region beamed into the living rooms of sports fans across the world and boost tourist numbers.

“The last time we had a World Cup match in the Tees Valley was 1966, when North Korea beat Italy at Ayresome Park.

“Now, 55 years later, sports fan will be able to come through the famous Ayresome Gates, this time at the Riverside, once again to watch a World Cup Game.

“Now our local airport will return to public ownership, I expect many thousands from around the world to travel through Teesside International in 2021.”

The region has previous experience hosting international sporting teams, with the New Zealand All Blacks head coach praising Darlington’s Mowden Park after it hosted the rugby team in 2015.

The successful bid also outlined Tees Valley’s location, facilities and venues including the Riverside Stadium and Northern Echo Arena.

Jon Dutton, chief executive of Rugby League World Cup 2021, added: “We’re extremely excited to see the Riverside Stadium in Middlesbrough host a men’s fixture at the Rugby League World Cup 2021.

“We’re looking forward to bringing world-class rugby league to the region, the birthplace of Captain James Cook.

“The Tees Valley partners put together a compelling bid and it will be fantastic to see the community having the opportunity to engage with the tournament over the next 1,000 days.”

The bid was put together by a partnership of the Tees Valley Combined Authority, Middlesbrough Football Club, Darlington Mowden Park RFC, MFC Foundation, Middlesbrough Council and Darlington Borough Council.

The news comes less than a week since the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority approved plans to bring Durham Tees Valley Airport back into public ownership, saving it from closure in 2021.

Newcastle has also been chosen to host the official opening ceremony and first game when the Rugby League World Cup comes to England in 2021.

Cllr Kim McGuinness, cabinet member for culture, sport and public health at Newcastle City Council, declared: “The Rugby League World Cup 2021 is set to be an unmissable event and we’re delighted to be playing a key role in it.

“We’ve got the experience, talent and passion to put on a spectacular opening ceremony and provide a great experience for the fans.

“We’re proud to be a host city as [Newcastle’s] values fit really well with [those] of rugby league - we’re about inclusion and equality, which is at the heart of this tournament with the women’s, men’s and wheelchair World Cup all receiving equal billing.”

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