city scape of Leeds overlooking park


Leeds set to turn on the sporting style to help make this year’s Rugby League World Cup a truly champion occasion.

Leeds is set to turn on the sporting style as it plays its part in making this year’s Rugby League World Cup a truly champion occasion.

The long-awaited tournament gets under way later this month, with Leeds staging eight of the 61 games that will be taking place over the course of five action-packed weeks.

Seven of those fixtures are being played at Headingley Stadium, while Elland Road has been chosen as the setting for one of the men’s semi-finals.

The Ireland and Jamaica men’s teams and the England, Papua New Guinea, Brazil and Canada women’s teams will all be based in Leeds during the competition, using facilities at the John Charles Centre for Sport, the University of Leeds, Leeds Beckett University and the Leeds Rhinos training ground at Kirkstall for their match preparations.

But the excitement during the tournament won’t just be confined to the pitch, with a programme of community-themed tie-in events lined up to help local residents get as much as possible from the World Cup experience while also showcasing the very best of Leeds.

The programme includes:

  • Three civic receptions for the locally-based teams, with the first – for Ireland and Jamaica – being staged at Leeds Civic Hall next Tuesday, October 11. Guests at Tuesday’s event will include the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Robert W Gettings MBE JP, and representatives from a wide range of sporting and community organisations;
  • The launch of a major artwork project as part of the annual Light Night Leeds cultural celebration. The Power of Poetry consists of four large, double-sided ‘light poems’ exploring themes such as the sound of the stadium, the joy of reconnecting through sport post-lockdown and the dynamic nature of rugby league.  The artwork will be on show on the Headrow and off Infirmary Street from 6.30pm to 10.30pm next Thursday, October 13, and will then journey across the north of England, visiting locations in and around other host cities.
  • A spectacular outdoor show that will bring the atmosphere and passion of rugby league out of the stadium and onto the streets. Taking place in Millennium Square, Cookridge Street and Victoria Gardens between 4pm and 6pm on Friday, October 28,  The Power of Performance: This Is Us will use dance and music to tell unique stories about the game and its people. The show will feature a central company of professional performers collaborating with a participant cast.
  • A special Leeds International Film Festival screening at the Vue Cinema in the city centre on Monday, November 7, of Power Meri, an acclaimed documentary that followed the Papua New Guinea women’s team of 2017 as they prepared to compete in the Rugby League World Cup for the first time. The invite-only screening will be attended by current Papua New Guinea players.

Councillor James Lewis, leader of Leeds City Council, said:

“The countdown to the Rugby League World Cup is really gathering pace now, and it’s great to see Leeds ready to play a prominent role in the tournament, both on and off the field.

“We are rightly proud of our reputation as one of the country’s foremost sporting cities, having already hosted events this year such as the AJ Bell World Triathlon Championship Series, the Westfield Health British Transplant Games and the Euro 2022 warm-up match between England’s footballing Lionesses and the Netherlands.

“The games and the wider community activity being held here during the Rugby League World Cup can only strengthen that reputation, and I’m sure people will join me in welcoming all of the players, coaching staff, officials and fans who will be heading our way.”

Delayed for a year by the effects of the pandemic, the Rugby League World Cup runs from Saturday, October 15, to Saturday, November 19, and is being staged in a total of 18 towns and cities across England.

Leeds will be in the spotlight from the word go, with the Australia and Fiji men’s teams meeting at Headingley on the sporting extravaganza’s opening day.

Headingley is also hosting the first two games of the women’s competition – England versus Brazil and Papua New Guinea versus Canada, both on Tuesday, November 1.

Adding to the growing sense of anticipation, this week sees the arrival of some of the locally-based nations as well as a men’s friendly fixture between Leeds Rhinos and New Zealand at Headingley on Saturday (October 8).

Further information about the Rugby League World Cup, including ticket details for the various games, can be found here.

To read more about the city’s preparations for the big kick-off, head to the Visit Leeds website. Visit Leeds is also running a Rugby League World Cup competition, click here for the chance to win prize packages including match tickets, a hotel stay and dinner.

The Power of Poetry and The Power of Performance projects are both part of the Rugby League World Cup Cultural Festival, with more details available here.