A child friendly welcome for Kiwis in Leeds

From left to right:  Jesse Bromwich, Simon Mannering, Cllr Lucinda Yeadon, Cllr Judith Blake, Thomas Leuluai with two Leeds school children

Kiwi captain Simon Mannering with children from Woodlesford Primary School and Cllr Judith Blake

Over 800 Leeds school children gave a warm Yorkshire welcome to the New Zealand rugby league world cup squad at a special event at the John Charles Centre for Sport yesterday (12 November).

Pupils from 52 of the city’s schools were invited to meet the reigning rugby league world champions, including Sonny Bill Williams, who is arguably the best RL player in the world. The Kiwis have been in Leeds since 4 November and are busy preparing for their crucial Quarter Final game against Scotland this Friday following their win at Headingley Carnegie Stadium on 8 November against Papua New Guinea.

The squad took time out of their hectic training schedule to meet the youngsters, who brought along specially created banners to help create a really colourful and bright occasion. The players spent time chatting to the children, signed lots of autographs and posed for photographs.

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, executive member for leisure and skills said:
“Leeds has been buzzing with excitement in the lead-up to the RLWC2013 games in Leeds, and we are immensely proud that the Kiwis have been staying and training in our city.

“This event for over 800 of our children and young people really was a once in a lifetime opportunity for them, and one that they will never forget. It was fantastic to see the players take time out of their hectic training schedule to engage with the youngsters in such good spirit.

“I know that the Kiwis will get plenty of support at Headingley this Friday night, when they take on Scotland in the first quarter-final game of the tournament. There was a record turnout for the game last Friday, and as this is the last chance to catch a RLWC2013 game in Yorkshire, it would be fantastic to see another large crowd this week to show the world why Leeds is the UK’s best city for rugby league.”

Councillor Judith Blake, deputy leader and executive member for children’s services said:
“We have been delighted with the fantastic opportunities that being a host city for RLWC2013 have afforded children and young people in the city, and I’m sure that the New Zealand team will have been thrilled with the welcome they received today.

“Once again, lots of our children will be on the pitch at Headingley this Friday night playing their part in a memorable sporting occasion. Taking to the pitch in front of thousands of fans will be something these lucky young people will never forget.”

Tickets for Scotland v New Zealand on Friday night are available now from www.rlwc2013.com/tickets or by calling the 24 hour Ticket Hotline on 0844 847 2013.

You can also buy them from the ticket office at Headingley Carnegie Stadium and the Leeds Visitor Centre at Leeds Railway Station, the opening hours of which are Monday 10am - 5.30pm, Tuesday to Saturday 9am - 5.30pm, Sunday 10am - 4pm. For more information please visit the website www.visitleeds.co.uk, email tourinfo@leeds.gov.uk, or telephone 0113 242 5242.


For media enquiries, please contact;

Claire Macklam, Leeds City Council press office (07712) 214223

Email: claire.macklam@leeds.gov.uk