A bid for Sheffield to host matches at the Rugby League World Cup 2021 has moved a step closer.
Organisers of the tournament have confirmed that Sheffield’s joint bid from Sheffield City Council, Sheffield United, Sheffield International Venues and Sheffield Eagles has passed the first stage of the selection process.
The Steel City has progressed to the ‘candidate stage’ of the process, alongside other places including Doncaster, Teeside, Workington and Kirklees.
If the bid is successful it means some of the world’s top men’s teams could be playing at Sheffield United’s 32, 600-capacity Bramall Lane stadium when the tournament comes to England between October 23 and November 27 2021.
It could also mean that games in the ladies and wheelchair competitions will be played at the Olympic Legacy Park and the English Institute of Sport. In addition, one of the competing teams could be hosted in the city.
RLWC2021 officials will now make site visits to the city’s facilities and write an assessment report review. A final decision on the host venues will be made in January 2019.
Dave McCarthy, operations director at Sheffield United, said: “To make the candidate stage for such a prestigious global event is incredible for the club and the city. .
“The Rugby League World Cup 2021 team are looking to deliver the most viewed tournament ever which will showcase Sheffield to a global audience of millions.
“Sheffield and Bramall Lane are renowned for sporting legacy and we would be extremely proud to work with the organisers to help deliver a long-lasting legacy that celebrates the heritage of the sport and increases the participation and interest in rugby league across the world.”
This comes after Bramall Lane was confirmed as a host venue for the UEFA Women’s Euro 2021 football tournament.
There has also been calls for the city to stage matches at the 2030 World Cup for men's football, if the FA submits a bid for England to host the tournament.
Councillor Mary Lea, Sheffield Council’s cabinet member for culture, parks and leisure, said this was all evidence of “Sheffield’s ambition and status as a world class destination for all sport.”
Andrew Snelling, chief executive of SIV, which operates 13 sport and entertainment facilities in Sheffield, said: “Our sporting facilities are some of the best in the country and it would be a privilege to host this prestigious event.”
The Rt Hon Richard Caborn, project lead for the Olympic Legacy Park, described Sheffield as a “passionate rugby city” and added: “It would be hugely exciting to see some of the world’s top teams play at Bramall Lane.”
Liam Claffey, chief operating officer at Sheffield Eagles, said a successful bid would prove to be a “springboard for the development of rugby league within the city and for the Eagles.”