Rugby league’s World Cup final just the ticket for Old Trafford

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Rugby League World Cup organisers last night revealed ticket sales in excess of 40,000 for the tournament’s November final.

RLWC2013 released a statement in the wake of Old Trafford being withdrawn as a venue for the rugby union equivalent in 2015, saying that Manchester United’s home ground remained the place for the November 30 showpiece.

The tournament’s general manager Sally Bolton said: “The sport of rugby league has a long-standing relationship with Manchester United.

“Old Trafford is a fantastic, proven arena for our extraordinary game and from day one we had planned for the final to be there.

“We have a great relationship with the club and are working closely with them to deliver this world class event, the pinnacle of our sport.

“Over 40,000 tickets have now gone for the final and three price categories of tickets have completely sold out.”

United pulled Old Trafford out of the running to be a venue for union’s World Cup due to concerns over the likely damage to the pitch.

Tournament organisers are now in talks with Manchester City about holding matches at the Etihad Stadium instead.

England 2015 had hoped to hold up to three matches at Old Trafford and are anxious to retain Manchester as a host city even though the Etihad’s capacity is 16,000 smaller than Old Trafford’s 76,000.

United are installing a new pitch this summer – a Desso pitch like Wembley’s which combines grass and artificial fibres – and there were concerns that rugby union games would be too damaging.

The tournament is taking place in September and October 2015 and United are likely to be involved in the group stages of the Champions League at that time.

Leeds have confirmed forward Ryan Bailey will not play again this month after being given a four-match suspension by the Rugby Football League.

The 29-year-old was sent off during his side’s 27-12 win against the Catalan Dragons on Monday.

Bailey was dismissed for a 48th-minute late shot on Thomas Bosc, having already been put on report for another late hit.

The latter offence was ranked as a Grade C one when Bailey was charged, and an early guilty plea yesterday morning saw him given a two-match ban.

Two more matches have since been tagged on for the Grade B Bosc incident, meaning the six-time Grand Final winner will miss games with Warrington, London and Hull KR, as well as a Challenge Cup fourth-round match and will next be available for the West Yorkshire derby with Bradford on May 3.

Also entering an early guilty plea was Huddersfield prop Eorl Crabtree, who will miss his first game of the season on Saturday against Castleford after accepting a one-match ban for a dangerous throw in his side’s Good Friday defeat at Salford.

Castleford Tigers winger Justin Carney and Hull KR’s Travis Burns were given two-game bans following incidents over the Easter fixtures.