Council hails impact of Rugby League World Cup
Competition hailed a success for Warrington
An evaluation report of the Rugby League World Cup (RLWC) has demonstrated the significant positive impact it brought to Warrington throughout the tournament.
As part of the tournament, Warrington hosted a number of sporting and cultural events alongside four men’s games and a world-first Physical Disability Rugby League (PDRL) World Cup. Warrington also hosted the Papua New Guinea men’s team, who brought a truly unique and celebratory atmosphere to the town for the duration of their stay.
The evaluation report, considered by Cabinet at its meeting on Monday 10 July, shows that alongside hosting Papua New Guinea and the rugby league games themselves, Warrington hosted a successful festival of events and cultural activities including:
- A heritage programme featuring local women who are former or current England Lionesses
- A number of events across Warrington’s libraries
- An ambitious programme of activities and events as part of the opening weekend, including a giant walking puppet and dance event
- The introduction of a ‘TRY’ sports day, allowing people the chance to take part in a number of activities including walking rugby, basketball, circus skills and roller skating
- A special screening at Time Square’s Cineworld of ‘Take His Legs’, the Adam Hills documentary, which was hosted by Adam Hills himself and featured players and coaches from all four competing PDRL nations
- Art installations within Warrington Market and across the town centre based on the RLWC theme of “the power of together”, which also included a PNG bird of paradise trail
The evaluation report praised the strong and enduring partnership working of organisations across the town, and how by working together many residents and communities were able to enjoy the tournament and Warrington’s cultural and events programme.
Measuring the impact of RLWC
Alongside Warrington’s local RLWC impact report, the central RLWC tournament organisers have recently published their own evaluation and findings which show that 96% of the general public believe RLWC had a positive impact across the north of England. Equally, more than half of the general public, including TV viewers, felt inspired to do more physical activity as a result of RLWC.
Perhaps most importantly, 85% of people agreed that RLWC contributed to social inclusion – with Warrington a beacon of accessibility and inclusion after playing a vital part hosting the first ever PDRL World Cup.
Local findings show that since the RLWC tournament, there has been a 6.5% increase in people playing all forms of rugby league in the last 12 months (June 2022 – June 2023), with new, specific junior PDRL training sessions now being delivered by Warrington Wolves Foundation with 15 registered players training weekly.
The council also previously worked with Warrington Wolves Foundation to secure £600,000 RLWC “CreatedBy” legacy funding to support the development of a rugby league centre of excellence at Victoria Park. The council matched this funding to develop a state-of-the-art 3G pitch which is now in regular use and continues to support growing rugby league across all disciplines and for all ages.
Leader of the Council, Cllr Russ Bowden, said: “We’re really pleased with the impact that the Rugby League World Cup had in Warrington. The four men’s games at the Halliwell Jones Stadium, and playing host to the Papua New Guinea men’s team were significant achievements for us.
“Clearly, however, it wasn’t just about the matches we hosted – it was about connecting more of our residents and children with new and exciting events and activities, and helping to create memories for our communities – whether they are big rugby league fans or not.
“The tournament in Warrington is a clear indicator of how important we see inclusive sports and leisure. As we reflect on the positive impact the tournament had locally, it is perhaps most important to recognise how our role as host of the Physical Disability Rugby League World Cup will have brought opportunities for more people to play the sport, not just locally, but nationally too.
“I will certainly be most proud of how, as a town, we showed our collective approach to inclusion by hosting the PDRL tournament and it’s therefore incredibly pleasing to see that we are now able to offer local junior PDRL sessions, supporting our next generation of rugby league players.”
You can read the full evaluation report online at: warrington.gov.uk/rugby-league-world-cup-2021