Newcastle’s bid to be a host city for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup was officially unveiled on Tuesday evening, with the city aiming to bring games in both the main competition and the Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup to the North East.

The bid brings together Newcastle City Council, NewcastleGateshead Initiative, Newcastle United FC, Newcastle Eagles Basketball Club, NE1 and Newcastle Thunder RL Club as partner organisations.  It puts both St James’ Park and Kingston Park Stadium forward as host venues for fixtures alongside the new Eagles Community Arena in Elswick for staging games in the Wheelchair RL competition.

Newcastle’s ambitions to be a host location have already passed the first stage of assessment, making it through to a shortlist of 28 cities under consideration, with a final decision on where games will take place expected later this year.

At the launch event, hosted at the offices of Brewin Dolphin, the ambitious plans behind the bid were presented to over 70 guests from the business community, sporting organisations, civic partners and the media.

Newcastle has requested that it would like to be considered to host England in the opening game of the tournament at St James’ Park. Plans have also been put forward to stage a second game in the city on the same weekend at Kingston Park Stadium, with Scotland being proposed as being one of the teams taking part.  Around these two games the city would stage a series of events involving an opening ceremony, fan zone, a festival of rugby league as well as other city animation, cultural and civic occasions.

Complimenting the two matches in the main competition the Newcastle Eagles Community Arena has been proposed to host a series of games in the Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup.  Due for completion at the end of 2018 the facility would be able to host more than 2,000 spectators for the wheelchair version of the sport.

Held every four years, the tournament is the pinnacle event in the rugby league calendar and will see games staged throughout England. RLWC2021 will be a breakthrough moment with the men’s, women’s and wheelchair rugby league world cup’s staged together for the first time. The Newcastle bid also announced a series of exciting and ambitious community development lead up and legacy programmes aimed at growing the sport at all levels.

Cllr Kim McGuinness, cabinet member for culture, sport and public health at Newcastle City Council said: “It’s wonderful news that our bid to host Rugby League World Cup matches in Newcastle in 2021 has been shortlisted.

“Newcastle has built a national reputation as a rugby-loving city which welcomes back fans again and again, a reputation built off the back of our famous friendly welcome and sporting pride. The Rugby League World Cup is the perfect opportunity to put our city on the global stage. We know from events such as the Magic Weekend or the Great Exhibition of the North that we can offer a welcome like no other in an atmosphere that is unrivalled

“But we also know that, just like Rugby League, we are a city in which everyone has their chance to take part and enjoy.

“We want these to be games which reach out in to all communities in our city and make it a successes everyone takes pride in.”

Jon Dutton, Chief Executive of RLWC2021, said: “Today is another significant milestone in our journey ahead of what will be the biggest and best ever RLWC in history. We’ve been delighted with not just the quantity but the quality of the applications we have received.

“It’s been great to see the various public “Back the Bid” campaigns across the country which has shown what it means to communities to be a host at RLWC2021. The next stage is for us go through each and every bid in detail to allow us to make the best possible decisions for the tournament – this journey will include site visits and further conversations in the next few months before we reveal the outcomes early next year.”