RFL chief executive Nigel Wood says the World Cup will leave a lasting legacy for the sport throughout the UK.
A further 26 matches at 20 other venues then follow over the next five weeks, including the semi-finals at Wembley and the climax at Old Trafford.
Wood said: “The tournament is already capturing the imagination of the public across the length and breadth of the country and everything points to us achieving our stated ambition of making this the greatest Rugby League World Cup of all time.
“Even before a ball is kicked, the interest in the tournament over the last few weeks has been little short of phenomenal.
“What has been particularly striking is the number of people purchasing tickets who are ‘new’ to the sport, with a fifth of all sales having been made to fans who have not previously bought tickets for major Rugby League events.
“Many of those people will fall in love with this great game when they witness at first hand the skill and athleticism that will be on show throughout the World Cup and will back next year to catch the action at Super League and Championships matches.
“This tournament has been a long time in the planning and we now stand just days away from an opening ceremony that will do justice to the largest multi-national event staged in the country since the 2012 Olympics.
“The London Games were a triumph which changed perceptions and changed the lives of everyone involved: I have no doubts that Rugby League World Cup 2013 will do exactly the same for our sport.