Millennium Stadium in Cardiff to Host 14th Rugby League World Cup
In October 2013, the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff will host the inaugural event of the 14th Rugby League World Cup. The organizers of the tournament are hoping that this time the enthusiasm generated will be the same as that in the 1995 World Cup held in England and Wales.
The first match will be between England and Australia, the same sides that played against each other in 1995 at Wembley. That year, the English side, headed by Phil Larder, landed a win that created a lot of excitement among fans. However, in 2000, when England lost to Australia 22-2 at Twickenham, fans created a riot that is among the most damaging in the history of Rugby League World Cup.
Double Header on Day 1 – Additional Match between Italy and Wales
In 2013, there will be an additional match – between Italy and Wales (who is co-hosting the tournament). Though the time of the match has not been confirmed, many believe that it may take place in the first half of the first day to make a double-header.
The previous World Cup, held in 2008 in Australia, did not see Wales participate, as the side did not qualify despite reaching the semi-finals of the last two tournaments. But, the side has improved after coach Iestyn Harris took over. In the Four Nations series last autumn, Wales qualified. The side gave a creditable performance, even though it did not save them from facing three losses.
Italy’s Involvement in Opening Fixture Surprises Many
Many in the industry are surprised that Italy is involved in the opening fixture of the series. The response Italy will get for its participation is likely to be similar to that faced by Lebanon when the side participated in the tournament in 2000. Italy’s players will go up against tough competitors from Australia.
Since Lebanon’s experience with the Rugby League World Cup in 2000, a few changes have been made to the code in the country. Other nations like Italy and the USA, which are considered unlikely entrants in the tournament, have also adopted some of the new codes. USA has been slated to make its debut in the World Cup in Wales’ group, in Wrexham.
Ireland and Fiji in Group A
Ireland and Fiji will play in Group A against Australia and England. Three teams from the group will qualify to play in the quarter finals in Rochdale, where there is a good likelihood of Ireland and Fiji competing with each other. Since the 1960s, when many players from Fiji joined the English side, Rochdale has had a big community of Fijians.
According to the organizers, the tournament will have a complicated draw. This has been done to ensure that the matches are competitive throughout the World Cup. Papua New Guinea will face Samoa and France in two group games, which will be held at Craven Park. Samoa will play against New Zealand at Halliwell Jones Stadium in Warrington.
Besides Warrington, Leeds, Wigan and Wrexham will also host the quarter finals. Though Wembley is the favorite for staging the semi-finals and finals, the Rugby Football League has not confirmed the venue. According to the League, there have been a few positive and interesting developments in the World Cup following which they decided to announce details about the final series, later.