THE RUGBY League International Federation has confirmed that Queensland will host the final of the 2008 World Cup, a semi final and at least three of the remaining 17 matches in the tournament.
The crowning moment of the gameÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s Centenary Season in Australia will be staged at BrisbaneÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s Suncorp Stadium on November 22.
New South Wales, the site of the first Rugby League game on Australian soil, has won the right to kick off the tournament with a showdown between Australia and New Zealand on October 25. It is also guaranteed a semi final and a minimum of five pool matches.
Ten nations will take part in the first World Cup on Australian soil since 1977 a year when League legends Arthur Beetson,Mick Cronin, and Graham Eadie led Australia to victory.
As well as Sydney and Brisbane, matches have been confirmed in Townsville, Robina, and Melbourne, with negotiations on-going at other key regional venues.
Tickets for the 2008 Rugby League World Cup matches will go on sale from August this year.
RLIF and ARL Chairman Mr Colin Love AM, RFL Chairman Mr Richard Lewis and New Zealand Chairman Mr Andrew Chalmersjoined Australian and New Zealand team representatives for the announcements at BrisbaneÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s Suncorp Stadium today.
Coinciding with the release of key venues, the Nine Network has announced that it will telecast all six ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã‹ÂœSuper PoolÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢ matches and each of the three finals during the four-week event.
IMG Media has secured the international television rights and Velocity Brand Management, the company behind the 2007 Cricket World Cup, has won the merchandise and licensing rights.
The Australian Rugby League has been appointed to host the 2008 tournament on behalf of the RLIF.
The announcements follow months of behind the scenes planning and 17 qualifying matches which have been taking place from centres as diverse as Ireland, London, Belgrade, Amsterdam, Moscow, Philadelphia and Sydney since September 2006.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“The World Cup tournament is well and truly making its way to Australia,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã‚Â Mr Love said.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“The support we have received from governments, the corporate sector and broadcasters underlines just how much people are looking forward to the event next year.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“The ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã‹ÂœSuper PoolÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢ format with Australia, England, New Zealand and PNG in one pool will give all nations a real chance to display their talent throughout the tournament.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã‚Â
Nineteen nations are contesting the 2008 World Cup. Seven have already secured a berth in the 10-team tournament to be played in Australia from October 25 to Saturday November 22, 2008.
These include current World Cup holders and Tri Nations champions Australia who joined New Zealand, England, France and Papua New Guinea in gaining automatic entry to the tournament.
Fiji and Tonga have also qualified via the Pacific Cup and seven teams (Ireland, Lebanon, Russia, Scotland, Wales the USA and Samoa) are vying for the remaining three positions.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“Already the tournament has achieved an enormous amount in promoting the game in developing nations,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã‚Â Mr Love said.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“ThereÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s a real sense of anticipation building in those countries still working to qualify.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“Those who have missed out are already planning for next time and those that werenÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢t quite ready for the 2008 event are committed to building their competitions to be contenders in the future.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“ThereÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s enormous enthusiasm for the game internationally and the spirit of World Cups in all sports is to respect the so-called minnows as much as the established stars.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“To that end, the work of coaches like Tim Sheens (Russia), Jim Dymock (Tonga), John Monie (France), and Adrian Lam (PNG) in nurturing the skills of these aspiring players also deserves special mention.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“On one level this tournament will celebrate a lot of hard work by many enthusiastic individuals who are growing the gameÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s reach and who deserve recognition.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“It will also, as shown in last yearÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s Tri-Nations final, showcase the remarkable rivalries of traditional powers such as Australia, England and New Zealand.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“ItÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s a compelling event not only for Rugby League fans but for all sports fans.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“AustralianÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s love to give an ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã‹ÂœunderdogÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢ a go and World Cups are a celebration of that very spirit.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã‚Â