As the 2013 World Cup gets ever closer Nigel Wood confirmed the host venues for the group stages and quarter finals.
Headingley Stadium, Halliwell Jones Stadium, DW Stadium and The Glyndŵr University Racecourse Stadium in Wrexham will each host a group game and one quarter final match, while 13 other venues will host at least one group stage match.
The venues for the opening ceremony, semi finals, and final on November 30, 2013 are set to be announced in the New Year as the Rugby League International Federation build the tension before the tournament kicks off.
So just to speculate, where will the four remaining venues be? The opening ceremony will almost certainly be between England and Australia in Group A, and already internet message boards users are getting themselves into a spin about using Wembley to host that fixture.
England played Australia at the national stadium this year as part of a double header in the Four Nations, with Wales facing New Zealand beforehand. I think the success of that in addition to the anticipation the RLIF are generating in this country will see an increased attendance should the tournament opener be a repeat of the Four Nations final.
It came as a surprise to see the four venues to host quarter finals named as such. After a full review of the stadia that will only host group games, the KC Stadium and Galpharm Stadium both stand out as high class facilities that deserve more than a minimum of one group game.
My theory is that both these stadiums will be granted semi final matches. Should England make the semi finals, both stadiums are off a reputable size to ensure a sell out crowd will attend and will the English onto what will hopefully be their first World Cup final in 18 years.
As for the final itself, I believe one of two venues will take the honour.
The toss up between Elland Road and Old Trafford ensures the final takes place in the north of England. Elland Road has hosted the last four Tri Nations and Four Nations finals in the UK, and the demand has just about been accurate, with the 2011 Four Nations final only selling out the day before the match. It would take few people by surprise should Leeds be granted a second venue for the tournament.
Old Trafford is home to the Super League Grand Final, and until the upper echelons were renovated in the north east and north west corners, sold out year after year once the event and play off concept became accepted with supporters. The stadium hosted the 2000 World Cup final in front of 44,000 die hard fanatics who saw Australia thrash New Zealand in the final. With the profile of the World Cup set to sky rocket over the next two years, choosing Old Trafford for the final would not be a bad idea.
This forthcoming World Cup has already seen a high amount of marketing and anticipation built towards it. All 14 teams have two years to plan ahead and become as competitive as possible. With the format changing once again due to an increase in the number of competing nations, this is the Rugby Football League’s chance to eradicate the ghosts of the failed 2000 World Cup and build on what was a tremendous tournament in 2008.