Rugby League World Cup 2021, Chief Executive Jon Dutton has paid tribute to the players for providing inspiration to the next generation of rugby league players, fans, volunteers and coaches as anticipation grows for the three tournament finals.
All three tournament finals will be held in Manchester this weekend, with England taking on France in the finale of the Wheelchair tournament in Manchester Central this evening, before a spectacular men’s and women’s double header at Old Trafford tomorrow, with New Zealand taking on Australia in the women’s final, before defending champions Australia take on Samoa in the men’s final.
Dutton also paid tribute to the fans who have taken in World Cup action, in stadiums and via the BBC and called for more international rugby league in the sporting calendar.
“Even before this weekend’s finals the appetite for the tournament has been truly remarkable.
“With almost 500,000 people having bought a ticket to one of our matches and 30 million people tuning in to watch from home on TV or across digital, Rugby League World Cup 2021 has provided an unprecedented platform for our sport.
“So, what will be the impact of the tournament long after the final trophy has been lifted this weekend?
This has been a huge part of our work over the last seven years, creating new facilities so that people can get involved in our sport in whichever way they choose through our ground-breaking social impact programme.
“Ultimately it is my fervent hope that this tournament has inspired the next generation of people that will carry the future of our game on their back. I hope that this tournament, has inspired young boys and girls across the country and around the world to know that rugby league can be the sport for them, and that this tournament has also reminded people of the importance and power of international rugby league.
“Representing your country is one of the proudest things you can achieve in any sport and between now and France 2025 I hope that we will see more international rugby league in the sporting calendar.
“I would like to place on record my thanks to my board, teammates, funding, commercial and social impact partners, match officials, RFL and IRL colleagues, Power Squad volunteers, hosts, venues and everyone that has come together to make this tournament the success it has been.
“But ultimately, I do want to thank the players who have thrilled us and inspired us with their talent and passion over the last six weeks and put their body on the line every single time they step on to the pitch.
“And finally, I want to finish by thanking the fans. Ultimately this sport, and this tournament, has been for them and during some very challenging times they have enjoyed the tournament both in person and via broadcast platforms and have created some magnificent atmospheres worthy of the very best players in the world.”