Former Newcastle United chairman has his say on the Rugby League World Cup and the impact of the sport in the North East

The Rugby League World Cup kicks off this Saturday when England face Samoa in a much-anticipated game at Newcastle’s St James’ Park.

Many people from inside and outside the sport will be in attendance as rugby league’s biggest international competition gets underway in the North East.

One of those at the game on Saturday who will be getting a taste of rugby league on familiar territory will be former Newcastle United chairman Sir John Hall.

Hall, who will turn 90 early next year, was chairman of the Magpies for seven years in the ninities, and he is urging all local supporters to join him at St James’ Park on Saturday.

“It’s very important to me that Newcastle gets matches such as this,” he told the RLWC YouTube Channel. “It’s very important to rugby league too because it’s a sports mad city.

“Even though it’s not a major sport here, I’m sure the people will turn out because it showcases Newcastle to the world marketplace. It’s a great opportunity for Newcastle to show it is a sports city. We have many sports trying to show themselves here.

“People live their lives in this city through sport. I found this out when I had Newcastle United. Sport fills that gap for people here and rugby league is filling part of that gap.”

Hall, who likens rugby league supporters to those of Newcastle United, believes the local fans will love watching the sport, partly because of the great pace the game is played.

“I have been down to Yorkshire and watched a few games and the fans are fanatical,” he added. “They are just like Newcastle United, even though they are smaller crowds.

“People like myself, who are going there on Saturday, who don’t know much about the game, we are going because it is England and we are going to support England.

“It is a great stadium, getting 50,000 fans. There have been great crowds there for Magic Weekend. It is such a fast game, it is much faster than rugby union and that’s the great thing about league, when you see the speed they go at. It’s very entertaining and very enjoyable.

“I would like people to come and join me. We are helping to support another sport and developing our region, where we all love, where we all depend upon the jobs and the investment that comes from many people worldwide, and what we want to do is show people we are loyal people and great supporters.”

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