The Rugby League World Cup organisers and teams were welcomed at 10 Downing Street today.
Michelle Donelan, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport hosted the reception for representatives of all 32 competing nations, members of the Power Squad, alongside a variety of tournament partners, including those who have helped deliver the trailblazing social impact, volunteers and community clubs.
Young rugby league players from Elmbridge Eagles Rugby League Club made the most of the Downing Street garden to have a game of rugby league in front of the men’s, women’s and wheelchair trophies and watching guests.
RLWC2021 CEO, Jon Dutton said: “Since we first set out on this path seven years ago, we have been very fortunate to enjoy the support of Government who really bought into our vision and what we were trying to achieve.
“Rugby League World Cup 2021 has always been about much more than delivering 61 matches across three tournaments. Just as important has been the work that we have accomplished off the field of play, working to make a positive difference within communities through a variety of different programmes.
“Thanks to government support we have been able to significantly invest in facilities across the country, ensuring that people who have been inspired to get involved in our sport through watching the tournament can have the opportunity to do so. Our ground-breaking Mental Fitness Charter has trained thousands of players and coaches about how to look after their own health and spot warning signs in others, while the work we have done with our inclusive volunteers has been hugely valuable for them and also for us.
“I hope we have been able to set a benchmark for future major sporting events, both in this country and across the globe, that sport needs to be as much about what happens off the field of play as what happens on it, and it was fantastic to be here at Downing Street today to celebrate this success.”
Secretary of State Michelle Donelan, said: “We’ve had such a great year of major sporting events in this country – first with the Women’s EUROs, then the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, and also the World Gymnastics Championships in Liverpool. But as a proud northerner who grew up just down the road from the Warrington Wolves, I’m particularly pleased to see the Rugby League World Cup rounding off that list.
“It’s been a great tournament so far, and we’ve still got all three finals in Manchester next weekend to look forward to.
“In the run-up to the event, this tournament had already invested a significant part of the government’s £30 million pot of funding into the grassroots, through its social impact programme, which has already funded the refurbishment of dozens of clubhouses, changing rooms and artificial pitches – as well as all sorts of equipment, a mental fitness programme, international development and a special volunteer scheme. And that was before a single try was even scored.
“It’s a fantastic achievement, and proof that in the end, an event like this is about so much more than sport.”