Fixtures in the 2013 World Cup are to be spread across four countries. Although the 14-team tournament is centred on England, matches are also to be staged in Wales, France and Ireland, the Rugby League has announced.
The boldest choice is Thomond Park in Limerick, which has already hosted the Irish league side, while the homes of Wales' two semi-professional clubs – the South Wales Scorpions in Neath and the North Wales Crusaders in Wrexham – are both included.
In France, there will be games in Perpignan, home of the successful Catalan Dragons in Super League, and Avignon, which staged this year's international against England.
The RFL's chief executive, Nigel Wood, said that the decision to broaden the scope of the tournament had been taken "following some excellent bids". He said: "We are excited the tournament will visit established rugby league venues and also some new locations." Another boundary, albeit not a national one, will be crossed when Bristol, the scene of increasing rugby league activity over the past few years, puts on a match.
More conventionally, there will be games at the two Hull clubs, at Rochdale, Leigh, Halifax and Whitehaven from the lower divisions and at Huddersfield and the new stadia at Salford and St Helens.
There is nothing, however, for less up-to-date grounds like Castleford, Bradford and Wakefield, nor for Widnes, whose artificial pitch is not yet deemed acceptable under international rules. The quarter-finals will be played at Headingley, Wigan, Warrington and Wrexham.
Precisely who gets what in the group stages, as well as the venues for the opening ceremony, the semi-finals and the final, will be announced in the new year. Old Trafford has been mooted as the likely site for the final, although the success of the England-Australia Four Nations match at Wembley earlier this month has offered an alternative.
Northampton Town Football Club are holding a presentation on Thursday for their bid to join Championship 1 in 2013. The RFL has invited applications from outside the heartlands to fill the vacancies in the restructured lower divisions.Reuse content