Coventry could score another sporting success later this month, when the venues for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup are announced.
The decision will be announced by Rugby League World Cup organisers and will be broadcast live on BBC Sport at 9am on 29 January – and Ricoh Arena has been shortlisted as one of the stadiums around the country to be named as hosts.
The tournament falls in the same year as Coventry’s reign as UK City of Culture and this month’s announcement would give a massive boost to the start of its year as European City of Sport.
For the first time, the 2021 World Cup will feature men’s, women’s and wheelchair tournaments, with a total of 32 teams competing across 64 games in two months of thrilling sport.
Cities and towns around the country were invited to bid to be hosts for games, training venues and team base camps last year and were then put through a tough selection process.
Organisers promise the event will ‘crisscross moors, mountains, historic towns and buzzing metropolitan cities, showcasing a diverse, welcoming culture and all that England has to offer’.
And Coventry sports and civic leaders are hoping the city’s pedigree in hosting major events, coupled with other recent achievements will mean Coventry could be one of the chosen cities.
The venue has already hosted Olympic Football in 2012, as well as rugby union internationals and other major events, and in 2022 it will be a host for Commonwealth Games netball.
Cllr Kamran Caan, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Sport in the city, said Coventry being named would be a fitting reward for the city’s growing sporting reputation.
He said: “We will all be watching the announcement with our fingers crossed.
“Our city has always been a sporting city, but recently we have really stepped up to the national – and the world – stage.
“The power of sport can inspire so many people of any age to support their health. I hope this leads to more people taking part in sport and, at the same time, improve their health.
“We have hosted internationals, been a part of the Olympics, and when Commonwealth Games’ netball comes to the Ricoh, we will have been a part of two of the biggest global sporting festivals.
“It would be amazing if we could add the Rugby League World Cup to that growing list of achievements.
“The Ricoh and the city have both already shown that they are ready to put on a show and welcome fans from around the world – and the fact the tournament falls in our year as UK City of Culture will help in our bid to connect Sport and Culture as we are this year in our European City of Sport year.”
Nick Eastwood, Chief Executive for Ricoh Arena and Wasps, said:“We’ve shown before how Coventry rises to the occasion when staging international events. The Olympics, Champions Snooker, Davis Cup, FA internationals and previous Rugby League events have all been held at the Ricoh so it would be great to welcome another world tournament to the area. Let’s hope we get the right phone call next week.”
Alan Robinson, CEO and owner, of Coventry Bears Rugby League Club added: “We’re all massively excited and looking forward to next week’s announcement and clearly fingers crossed that Coventry is chosen to host some world cup action. We are on our own journey to grow rugby league in the city and region, so national profile for our great sport is obviously beneficial.
As the professional rugby league club in the city, we’d be immensely proud to have Coventry’s name associated with, what is, the biggest rugby league tournament in the world!”
To see more about the tournament visit the Rugby League World Cup.