Major football stadiums dominate 2021 World Cup host venues

James Gordon

The final of the 2021 World Cup will be staged at Old Trafford, with the men’s and women’s finals taking place as a double header.

The host towns, cities and venues for the tournament have been announced, with a Government target of hosting at least 80% of the tournament in the Northern Powerhouse met.

A semi-final will be played at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium, making rugby league the only sport other than football to have been played at the ground; while the men’s opening ceremony will take place at St James’ Park in Newcastle, the home of the Magic Weekend for the past four years.

The new host of the Magic Weekend, Anfield, will host a marquee quarter-final tie, while the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool will host the wheelchair final.

Jon Dutton, chief executive of RLWC 2021, said: “I would like to congratulate all of our chosen hosts who have worked so hard in submitting such compelling bids.

“Each and every host now has the opportunity to galvanise and inspire their respective communities ahead of the competing nations arriving in England.

“With all three tournaments running concurrently, RLWC2021 will give the chance for people across the country to engage in a variety of ways and really look forward to October and November 2021.

“This was an incredibly tough process given the large number of interested parties and the impressive nature of their bids. With so many competitive bids, we’re confident that our chosen hosts will help play a role in delivering the greatest, and most inclusive, Rugby League World Cup of all time.”

Other football grounds making the list include Bolton’s University of Bolton Stadium, which last year hosted the Challenge Cup semi-final double header, the Ricoh Arena in Coventry and the Riverside Stadium in Middlesbrough.

There are six Yorkshire venues, including Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium, the John Smith’s Stadium in Huddersfield, the KCOM Stadium in Hull, Elland Road and Headingley in Leeds, Bramall Lane in Sheffield and York’s new community stadium.

Core rugby league venues at St Helens, Warrington and Leigh will be used, as will the new planned stadium development in Workington.

Mims Davies, Minister for Sport and Civil Society, added: “The UK is renowned for putting on some of the biggest and best sporting events in the world and the Rugby League World Cup 2021 will be no exception.

“This tournament will provide a stage for the world’s best players in the men’s, women’s and wheelchair game to shine in cities and towns across the country.

“It is an exceptional opportunity to grow the sport. We are investing £25 million to help put on a fantastic event, reach new fans and improve facilities, so the tournament leaves a real legacy.”

Full list of game venues/hosts across men’s, women’s and wheelchair fixtures:


Bolton – The University of Bolton Stadium will host two men’s games, including an England group game and quarter-final.

Liverpool – Anfield will host the marquee quarter-final tie along with the women’s opening ceremony and initial England game. M&S Bank Arena Liverpool will host the wheelchair Rugby League final.

Preston – First training base to be revealed.

St Helens – The Totally Wicked Stadium will host three men’s group games.

Trafford – Old Trafford will host both the men’s and women’s finals as a double-header event.

Warrington – The Halliwell Jones Stadium will host three men’s group games.

Wigan and Leigh – Leigh Sports Village will host three men’s group games


Coventry – The Ricoh Arena will host one men’s game.


Doncaster – Club Doncaster will host three men’s group games.

Kirklees – The John Smiths Stadium will host a men’s quarter-final.

Hull – The KCOM Stadium will host two men’s games, including a quarter-final.

Leeds – Hosting more games than any other city, Elland Road will host a men’s semi-final and Emerald Headingley Stadium will host three men’s games and two women’s games.

Sheffield – Bramall Lane will host an England men’s group game. The EIS Sheffield will host a group and both semi-finals in the wheelchair tournament.

York – The Community Stadium will host a women’s group game and both women’s semi-finals.


Middlesbrough – The Riverside Stadium will host a significant men’s group game.

Newcastle – St James’ Park will host the opening England men’s group game including the men’s opening ceremony


Allerdale – The Workington Community Stadium will host three men’s group games.


London – The Emirates Stadium will host a men’s semi-final. The Copper Box Arena will host the England group in the wheelchair tournament.

The draw for the RLWC 2021 will take place on 27 th November 2019.