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UK government targets 2021 Rugby League World Cup, cycling’s Road Worlds

The Rugby Football League (RFL) has welcomed a statement from UK Chancellor George Osborne that the government will back a bid for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup, along with a future edition of cycling’s Road World Championships.

Osborne (pictured) made the announcement today (Wednesday) in the Treasury’s autumn statement, when he also disclosed that increased central government funding will be provided to elite sport to build on the success of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games at Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020.

“Following the success of hosting London 2012 and the rugby union World Cup, the Government will support the ambition to host the cycling road world championships and 2021 Rugby League World Cup in the Northern Powerhouse,” Osborne said.

More than 450,000 fans attended the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, in which 14 nations competed in 21 venues across the UK. The Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) announced in February 2014 that Australia and New Zealand would co-host the 2017 World Cup, with the joint bid chosen over a rival pitch from South Africa. Papua New Guinea was granted hosting rights to three pool stage games last month.

RFL chief executive Nigel Wood said: “The UK has a deserved reputation for staging world class events and the RFL has demonstrated its own ability to deliver in recent years. We believe with the right level of national support, up to and including the World Cup in 2021, there is a real opportunity to build further on the successful 2013 World Cup and move the sport onto a new level, delivering an unprecedented event that showcases Rugby League to the whole world.

“Bringing another world-class sporting tournament to the UK will undoubtedly excite the entire nation and we will work with partners to ensure that if the UK is to host the 2021 Rugby League World Cup, it will be the biggest and best ever staged.”

In April, UAE Rugby League president Sol Mokdad said it would also target a bid for the 2021 World Cup. The Middle East is not a traditional hotbed for the sport but Mokdad believes the facilities and financial backing are in place to host a competition that would add to the region’s growing roster of major sporting events.

The earliest opportunity for the UK to host the International Cycling Union’s Road World Championships would appear to be 2019. The UCI last month said it remains in talks with potential hosts amid reports that the Austrian city of Innsbruck had been awarded the 2018 World Championships.

The 2015 Worlds concluded in the US city of Richmond in September, while the event will head to the Qatari capital of Doha next year.