The 2013 Rugby League World Cup has been officially launched after the RFL hosted a kick-off event at Manchester’s new Media City development on Tuesday 30 November.
It was announced the 14th Rugby League World Cup will be contested in venues throughout England and Wales and has already been backed by the Welsh Assembly Government, the Coalition Government and former Welsh Olympian Iwan Thomas.
12 teams have already qualified for the competition; Australia, Cook Islands, England, Fiji, France, Ireland, New Zealand, Papa New Guinea, Samoa, Scotland, Tonga and Wales.
They will be joined by one qualifier from a European Qualifying group consisting of Italy, Lebanon, Russia and Serbia and one qualifier from an Atlantic Qualifying group of Jamaica, South Africa and the USA.
Wales are in Group D and are set to face Cook Islands and the Atlantic Qualifiers.
England are drawn alongside Australia, Fiji and Ireland in Group A whilst New Zealand will play Papua New Guinea, Samoa and France in Group B.
Scotland and Tonga will face the European qualifiers in the Group C.
Speaking in the events promotional video, First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones said, “It is a privilege for Wales to be given this opportunity. We saw tremendous success during the 1995 World Cup when Wales was host to numerous fixtures and the Welsh public came out in force to support their home team and to witness some of the world’s greatest players.
“With Rugby League enjoying a new found growth in Wales in recent years and with the sport having been played in schools throughout the country for the past eight years, we are confident that hosting games in venues such as the Millennium Stadium will be a great way of helping boost the sport in Wales.
“Hosting such an event will also provide a welcome financial boost to those towns and cities who secure the right to host fixtures, training camps and house the playing squads and with the potential for many visitors set to be attracted to these shores, the economic impact has the potential to be great.”
Prime Minister David Cameron also put the weight of the Coalition government behind the RFL’s announcement, emphasising the sporting potential the next decade offers.
Mr Cameron said: “This government is right behind the RFL. As one of the sports that this country holds closest to its heart, we know what a privilege and honour it is to host this tournament and I’m fully confident that the RFL will do the United Kingdom proud and I look forward to working closely with them to make sure it is a great success.
“The next decade promises to be one of the most exciting in our countries history. There will be the Olympics, the Cricket World Cup, hopefully the Football World Cup and the Rugby League World Cup.
“Coming so soon after the Olympics, the RFL have the opportunity to ride on the crest of that wave and host and truly memorable tournament.”