The Rugby League World Cup 2021 is the 16th staging of the world cup and is being hosted in England across 21 different venues.
For the first time, all the games – men’s, women’s and wheelchair competitions – will be played in one event from 23rd October, when the men’s group stages start, to the weekend of 26th-27th November, when the tournament culminates with the finals weekend.
Talking to Event Industry News, chief executive, Jon Dutton, expressed his excitement for the world cup, stating that plans for it have been ongoing since as early as 2015.
“We approached the government for funding back when David Cameron was prime minister,” Jon explained. “We received £25m – £15m will go into the tournament and £10m will go into the ‘Inspired by 2021’ legacy programme.” This programme was designed to maximise rugby league’s exposure and development to broaden the sport’s global audience.
Jon explained that they are already in talks with the BBC to broadcast all the tournaments. This will allow audience members at home to view the games in different venues, both large and small.
Through plans to engage new fans, as well as welcome back old faces from the rugby community, Jon expects a 60/40 divide: “We have plans in place to engage people over the next two years. We expect 60% of the audience to be returning rugby fans and 40% to be newcomers.”
The “plans” include drip-feeding content out over the next two years to keep fans interested, but also to launch an eSports offer. “We have a goal of 750,000 ticket sales and we want to put a bit of focus on Gen Z. Part of that is launching a digital-first, rich experience.”
Having released the news about WeTrack becoming an official supplier in June, we asked Jon about other partners in the pipeline. “It’s all planned out,” he said, “we know what we need. It’s all about getting the right partner at the right time.
“We currently have about 300 companies signed up to our portal to receive updates and information from us.”
Jon boasts a career in professional sports and has been part of the Rugby League for the last eight years.
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