Rugby League World Cup chiefs are hoping to rekindle the sporting spirit shown by UK fans during the 2012 London Olympics.
Next year’s tournament represents the first truly global event since the Olympics and they have set a target of selling 500,000 tickets, which went on sale on Friday, across the 28 games between October 26th and November 30th 2013.
General manager Sally Bolton says discovering new audiences and capturing the imagination of the general public, as lesser sports did in the summer Olympics, is key to the success of the tournament.
She said: “I think that’s a good opportunity for us. One of our key targets is getting to new markets.
“We are very interested in getting to people who just want to go to a major event and feel part of something and the sport is almost, to a certain extent, secondary.
“What we know about rugby league is if you can get someone to a game they generally get converted and like it so it’s a fantastic opportunity for sport in this country.”
The 28 games will be played across 21 venues in England, Wales France and Ireland, including the double-header opener at the Millennium Stadium, two semi-finals at Wembley and the final at Old Trafford.
Last Friday, to mark a year to go to the tournament, players from all 14 competing nations took part in an interactive press conference, including players from across the globe via a Google+ Hangout.
Bolton added: “We wanted a special event to mark this very significant milestone for the tournament. The one year to go date was too good an opportunity to miss and gave us a great way to launch our tickets going on general sale.
“Early tickets sales to the fans of the Rugby League clubs and those who pre-registered have been overwhelming. We’ve found that there is huge interest in the big games of the tournament, the opening double header at Cardiff and the semi-finals at Wembley in particular.
“Sales for the Rugby League World Cup final at Old Trafford however have really exceeded our expectations, currently out-stripping the other venues by five to one. I’d urge anyone therefore to buy tickets for the final now to avoid missing out.
“We think that offering 55 per cent of our tickets at £20 or less to see the best players in the world represents fantastic value. This is the pinnacle of Rugby League, a global sport which delivers extraordinary speed, power and athleticism to the spectator.
“To gather players from all of the nations who will ultimately be responsible for making RLWC2013 the best Rugby League World Cup ever was a great way for us to kick off ticket sales.”