Wembley and Old Trafford set for World Cup climax

ORGANISERS of the 2013 World Cup hope they have found the perfect blend of venues after announcing Old Trafford and Wembley will host the crucial deciding matches in next year’s tournament.

In staging the final at Old Trafford on Saturday November 30, the tournament’s planners have gone back to what they know given the on-going success of Super League Grand Finals at the same famous Manchester ground.

Meanwhile, they have also taken a leaf out of the Football Association’s book by announcing both semi-finals will take place at Wembley.

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Unlike the FA Cup semis, though, which were played on separate dates, the Rugby League World Cup will witness a double-header in London.

Rugby league staged its first double header at the national stadium just last year when England faced Australia and Wales played New Zealand in the Four Nations.

The success of that experiment was debatable and World Cup organisers will certainly hope to see a larger attendance than the 42,000 attracted last November.

However, given the Challenge Cup Final traditionally generates sizeable crowds, they believe, with 18 months remaining to market the event, they can nudge that total significantly upwards.

“It’s a stunning venue and has hosted some famous Rugby League World Cup games in the past,” said RLWC 2013 general manager Sally Bolton.

“Having two matches back to back will make for a wonderful day of rugby league with the four top teams going hammer and tongs for a place in the Rugby League World Cup final.

“We know Old Trafford very well too, a venue that always delivers a fantastic Super League Grand Final for us.

“Holding the final there will allow the rugby league community, the people of the North West and we hope many new fans to witness a fantastic spectacle.”

Meanwhile, in a further development yesterday, it was announced proposals to expand the World Club Challenge are to be considered by a newly-formed Working Party comprised of both Super League and NRL representatives.

RFL chief executive Nigel Wood and his counterpart from the Australian Rugby League Commission, David Gallop, discussed it at a Rugby League International Federation meeting in London this week and agreed it is worthy of further investigation.

Gallop will be joined by South Sydney chief executive Shane Richardson – formerly in charge at Hull FC – and St George Illawarra CEO Peter Doust as they try to thrash out details and increase the WCC into more than a one-off contest between the respective competition’s Grand Final winners.

Wood added: “It’s also important to stress that any expansion would be in addition to, and not at the expense of international competition which will continue to have primacy.”