RFL confirm cup venues

Press Releasein Rugby

The RFL has confirmed 18 venues across four countries will host games in the 2013 Rugby League World Cup.

Avignon and Perpignan in France and Ireland's Thomond Park, the rugby union stronghold of Munster, are among those that will stage games during the 14-team tournament.

Six other venues which will host participating teams while venues for the opening ceremony, the semi-finals and the final, as well as the precise fixtures, will be confirmed early in the New Year.

Organisers are using the new grounds which St Helens and Salford will move into for the start of the 2012 Super League season, as well as the planned Pow Beck Stadium in Whitehaven.

Widnes' Halton Stadium misses out, though, because its synthetic pitch has not been sanctioned by the Rugby League International Federation, as does Leeds' Elland Road, which drew a capacity crowd for the recent Four Nations final.

The quarter-finals will be held at Headingley, Wrexham, Warrington and Wigan.

Tournament director Nigel Wood said: "We experienced massive interest in hosting matches from all across Europe and we have had to make some tough decisions.

"We are excited that the tournament will visit established world-class rugby league venues but will also visit some new locations, including Bristol and Whitehaven, where we see unique opportunities to grow the game and to deliver a lasting legacy for our sport.

"It's important that we remind ourselves that rugby league is played in other parts of Europe and our decision to take matches to France, and indeed Ireland, is a reflection of that.

"Rugby League Ireland have made some significant gains over the last decade and only a few weeks ago Ireland played France at Thomond Park in front of a reasonable crowd so we wanted to show our support."

Wood admitted the selection process involved some tough decision-making.

"We've still got some ongoing discussions with a number of quality facilities and so we've held back the announcements on the rest of the venues until February," he added.

"We had a terrific bid from the city of Leeds but there are only 28 games to go round so somebody has to be disappointed.

"The selection committee have done what they could to ensure the most appropriate mix and blend of facility has been allocated."

The tournament will consist of two pools of four and two of three.

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