Celebrate the heritage of the Rugby League World Cup in Leeds

Photo montage of 'reluctant hero' John Holmes

Rugby League World Cup 2013 is the 14th instalment of the oldest rugby world cup tournament on the planet, and Leeds is proud to be a host with two matches being played in the city this autumn.

In celebration of this fantastic tournament coming to Leeds, the council, in partnership with Leeds Rugby Foundation Heritage Project, is hosting a new, free exhibition dedicated to the rich history of the rugby league world cup at Leeds Central Library.

Visitors to the exhibition, which opens on Wednesday 4 September, will be able to explore the fascinating history of the rugby league world cup through displays, memorabilia, nostalgic video clips, events, talks and interactive activities throughout the whole of September.

Special attention will be given to Leeds’ involvement, including a unique display in memory of John Holmes entitled ‘Reluctant Hero’. John played in three world cup competitions in a career spanning 23 years.

Great Britain triumphed in the very first rugby league world cup in France in 1954, and the final had a major Leeds involvement, with Gordon Brown scoring two tries and David Rose scoring one try. In addition Don Robinson played in the second row as did Hunslet’s Geoff Gunney.

This year’s competition kicks off at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on 26 October, and arrives in Leeds at Headingley Carnegie Stadium on Friday 8 November for a Group B game between New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. The competition’s first quarter final game will be played at Headingley a week later on Friday 15 November.

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council’s executive member for leisure and skills said:

“I am delighted that as part of our celebrations at hosting two matches in the city as part of the world cup this autumn, a special exhibition is now being held at Leeds Central Library celebrating the history of the rugby league world cup.

“Leeds is steeped in rugby league tradition, and it is fantastic that as part of the display there will be a feature on our involvement in previous tournaments plus details of the contribution of local hero John Holmes, who represented Great Britain in three world cups.

“We are extremely proud to have the honour of being a host city for the world cup, and this event is a must for anyone who wants to find out more about how rugby league became the great game it is today.”

Gary Hetherington, chief executive of Leeds Rugby said:

“Since the creation of the game of rugby league, the city of Leeds has had a central part to play in the game’s development and success. At the Rhinos, we are very proud of our history and heritage and it is great to see this exhibition celebrating the game’s history in our city.”

Bernard Shooman, Leeds Rugby Foundation Heritage project said:

“The rugby league world cup exhibition is a wonderful opportunity for the Leeds Rugby Foundation Heritage project team working in partnership with Leeds libraries, to present the history of the world cup.

“Its rich heritage has provided an opportunity to bring together a range of material, with many of the items being seen in public for the first time.”

Part of the exhibition will close on 30 September, but following a request from a number of Australian and Kiwi touring parties, some areas will remain open through October and November.

The full programme of free events and activities taking place at 1st Floor, Leeds Central Library during September is as follows:

Wednesday 4 September – Monday 30 September

Open exhibition and displays.

Saturday 7 September 1pm-3pm Family drop-in event

Fun-filled activities with a rugby league theme for all the family

Friday 13 September 1pm-2.30pm Origins of rugby league in Leeds

Join author and leading rugby league historian Professor Tony Collins for an informative insight on how the game began in Leeds.

Tuesday 17 September 6.30pm-8pm 40/Twenty talking rugby league: League loves libraries

Local players Jamie Jones Buchanan and Richard Mathers plus reporters Phil Caplan, Peter Smith and Tony Hannan share their passion for the game in a lively talk and discussion. Places are limited for this event so please book by calling 0113 247 6016 or email enquiry.express@leeds.gov.uk

Saturday 21 September 1pm-3pm Family drop-in event

Fun-filled activities with a rugby league theme for all the family.

Tuesday 24 September 6.30pm-8pm Birth of rugby league: Broken time

Join Mick Martin as he discusses the history of Rugby League, the writing of the play ‘Broken Time’ and the historical events surrounding the piece with cast members performing extracts from it.

Friday 27 September 1pm-2.30pm They walked on water

David Hinchliffe talks about his recent book on the infamous 1968 Watersplash Challenge Cup Final between Leeds and Wakefield Trinity.

For more information call 0113 247 6016 or visit www.leeds.gov.uk/librariesrlwc. Or follow @LeedsRLWC on Twitter or like our page on Facebook leedsRLWC

Additional info

To ensure that as many people as possible are able to enjoy the international game once the regular season has ended, a fantastic incentive is on offer when buying tickets for the games in Leeds. When a ticket to one of the games is purchased, a ticket for the second game is then available to buy at half price. Ticket prices start at just £10 (£5 concessions) for group games and quarter-finals.

Tickets are available 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.

Tickets can also be purchased by visiting www.rlwc2013.com or by calling the 24 hour Ticket Hotline on 0844 847 2013.


For media enquiries, please contact;
Claire Macklam, Leeds City Council press office (07712) 214223
Email: claire.macklam@leeds.gov.uk