12 Oct 2022
International rugby league stars have a ball at civic reception in Leeds
Leeds laid on a warm welcome for two teams of sporting stars as the countdown continued to the Rugby League World Cup’s big kick-off.
The Ireland and Jamaica men’s sides are both using the city as their base during the tournament, which gets under way this Saturday, October 15.
And last night (Tuesday, October 11) Leeds City Council rolled out the red carpet for the two nations’ players and management at a VIP-packed civic reception.
The event, held at Leeds Civic Hall, included speeches from the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Robert W Gettings MBE JP, and Councillor Jonathan Pryor, the council’s deputy leader and executive member for economy, culture and education.
Guests also heard speeches from Jamaican lead coach Jermaine Coleman, Irish head coach Ged Corcoran and Irish captain George King as well as Leeds Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington.
Other invitees included Martin Fraser, Ireland’s ambassador to the UK, and representatives from groups such as the Irish Arts Foundation and the Jamaica Society Leeds.
An exchange of gifts between the two teams and the city of Leeds was also held, underlining the way in which the tournament will help strengthen existing friendships and create new ones.
Leeds is staging eight of the 61 Rugby League World Cup games that will be taking place – in men’s, women’s and wheelchair competitions – across 18 towns and cities in England over the course of five weeks.
The first local game is happening this Saturday and will see the Australia and Fiji men’s teams in action at Headingley Stadium.
The England, Papua New Guinea, Brazil and Canada women’s teams will also be based in Leeds during the tournament, with facilities at the John Charles Centre for Sport, the University of Leeds, Leeds Beckett University and the Leeds Rhinos training ground at Kirkstall being used for match preparations.
Further civic receptions will be held for the locally-based women’s teams once they arrive in the city later this month, with their competition not due to start until Tuesday, November 1.
A number of cultural events have been organised to tie in with the tournament, including a spectacular dance and music show that will transport the energy and passion of rugby league onto the streets of Leeds. The show, entitled The Power of Performance: This Is Us, will take place in Millennium Square, Cookridge Street and Victoria Gardens between 4pm and 6pm on Friday, October 28.
The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Robert W Gettings MBE JP, said:
“I was delighted to have the opportunity to formally welcome the Ireland and Jamaica men’s teams to Leeds as they get ready for the Rugby League World Cup.
“I’m sure everyone in the city – not least our own Irish and Jamaican communities – will wish them well for the tournament. Sport has a wonderful way of bringing people together, and that should be much in evidence over the coming weeks.”
Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s deputy leader and executive member for economy, culture and education, said:
“The Rugby League World Cup will be an opportunity for Leeds to showcase itself as a welcoming and inclusive city with fine sports facilities and a vibrant cultural life.
“There was a real feeling of excitement in the air at the civic reception, and it was lovely to see some of the people who will be taking centre stage once the action kicks off. We can’t wait to play our part in making this an occasion for all to enjoy.”
Further information about the Rugby League World Cup, including ticket details for the various games, can be found here.
To read more about the city’s preparations for the tournament, head to the Visit Leeds website. Visit Leeds is also running a Rugby League World Cup competition, click here for the chance to win prize packages including match tickets, a hotel stay and dinner.
Special shuttle buses will be operating between Wellington Street in Leeds city centre and Headingley for Saturday’s Australia-Fiji match and Sunday’s game at the stadium featuring the Jamaica and Ireland men’s teams.
For media enquiries contact:
Leeds City Council Communications team