Italy and Tonga will play in Liverpool City Region

Liverpool and St Helens will host Tonga and Italy as RLWC2021 Nation Training Bases Are Announced!

  • Liverpool and St Helens will host the men's squads from Tonga and Italy  

  • The announcement celebrates 500 days until the opening fixture of RLWC2021 

With 500 days to go until the opening fixture of the Rugby League World Cup 2021 (RLWC2021), tournament organisers have announced that Liverpool and St Helens will act as the training bases for Tonga’s and Italy’s men’s team. 

Known for their passionate fanbases and rich sporting heritage both in and beyond rugby league, Liverpool and St Helens will welcome fan favourites, Tonga and Italy, as both sides look to make their mark on RLWC2021.  

The squads from the 21 unique nations and 32 teams will be based in different locations. The full list of host towns and cities, and the corresponding nations is as follows: 

  • Bolton – France (Men’s)  

  • Doncaster – Samoa (Men’s) 

  • Hull – Fiji (Men’s)  

  • Leeds – Jamaica, Ireland (Men’s) | England, Papua New Guinea, Brazil, Canada (Women’s) 

  • Liverpool and St Helens – Tonga, Italy (Men’s teams) 

  • London – England, Australia, Norway, Spain (Wheelchair)  

  • Manchester – England, Australia (Men’s) 

  • Newcastle – Scotland (Men’s)  

  • Preston – Wales (Men’s) 

  • Sheffield – Greece (Men’s) | France, Wales, Scotland, USA (Wheelchair) 

  • Tees Valley – Cook Islands (Men’s)  

  • Warrington – Papua New Guinea (Men’s) 

  • Wigan/Leigh – Lebanon (Men’s)  

  • York – New Zealand (Men’s) | Australia, New Zealand, France, Cook Islands (Women’s) 

All the host cities and towns, including those who won’t be a dedicated team base (Coventry and Kirklees), will form a huge part of making the tournament a success, welcoming players from around the world and adopting them as their own, as they get behind them and cheer them on in 500 days’ time. Following this announcement, the fixtures for all three tournaments will be announced in the coming months. 

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 each host, drawing on recognisable icons and displaying the sense of civic pride each host has for its town or city. RLWC2021 will be asking people from each town and city to vote on the icons that make up their custom patterns in the coming months and will be doing something similar for the nations towards the end of the year. 

Jon Dutton, RLWC2021 Chief Executive, said: “Today marks another hugely exciting milestone on the road to Rugby League World Cup 2021 as we celebrate 500 days until the opening fixture at St James' Park in October next year. 

“Liverpool and St Helens will play a huge part in RLWC2021, with Anfield hosting a men’s quarter-final, along with an England women’s fixture, while the M&S Bank Arena will host the wheelchair Rugby League final. St Helens’ brilliant stadium will play host to three men’s group fixtures, and now with confirmation that Tonga and Italy will be based in Liverpool and St Helens, these dedicated and passionate fans have another reason to get excited about RLWC2021. 

“Our refreshed tournament identity and today’s nation base announcement can serve as an exciting reminder for the people of Liverpool and St Helens 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.” 

Liverpool’s Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member responsible for sport, Councillor Wendy Simon, said: “We look forward to giving the Tonga and Italy teams a warm Liverpool welcome in 2021. 

“It’s an opportunity for us to also showcase not only our incredible sporting venues, but also the many sights which attract millions of visitors to the city each year - and we’ll be going all out to offer the organisers, teams and fans a truly exciting and unforgettable experience. 

“Hosting sporting events of this calibre in the city is a huge boost – not only to the local economy but also to the pride it engenders in people who live here.   

“For many, it’s a huge coup to have these major activities taking place on their doorsteps and without doubt, it raises the city’s profile and helps maintain Liverpool’s reputation as one of the leading cities in Europe when it comes to staging events.” 

Commenting on today’s announcement, St Helens Council leader, David Baines, said: “The Rugby League World Cup is going to a be a sensational event and we’re very much looking forward to welcoming Tonga and Italy to St Helens. I know that the players, staff and fans will get a very warm welcome from everyone in the borough. 

“The teams can also rest assured that their match preparations could not be better placed when they visit Ruskin Drive Sports Ground - one of the finest multi-purpose sports complexes in the region; Cowley, where some of rugby league’s biggest stars train day in, day out; and the recently redeveloped Newton-le-Willows Health and Fitness, a top class, state of the art facility. And of course, the world class Totally Wicked Stadium will host three men’s group games. There’s no better club rugby stadium in the country. 

“For St Helens Borough to be chosen to be part of a global celebration of rugby league speaks volumes of the borough’s proud past and achievements in the sport. We proved during the last World Cup back in 2013 how welcoming our borough is, and we’re more than ready to do it all again.” 

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