How Wigan Athletic helped bring the World Cup to the DW

Wigan Athletic chief executive Mal Brannigan has been credited with bringing next year’s Rugby League World Cup to Wigan.

Monday, 29th November 2021, 7:34 pm
Wigan Athletic's DW Stadium

After inexplicably being missed off the initial list of host stadia, the DW Stadium has been added to the revised plan with Liverpool’s Anfield no longer available.

And it was Brannigan’s ‘outstanding support’ for the tournament that tipped the balance Wigan’s way.

Chris Brindley, chair of Rugby League World Cup 2021, said: “The thing about Wigan now is it’s under new ownership.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“And I have to say the CEO there, Mal Brannigan, has been an outstanding supporter of this tournament.

“Good relationships get things done, and I would like to pay tribute to Mal for what he’s done in this process.

“He will do whatever it takes to help sell that game out for us, and he’s just another person in the mix that we are delighted to be dealing with.”

Jon Dutton, chief executive of Rugby League World Cup 2021, explained why Wigan originally missed the cut.

“At the time, we had a choice to make for that weekend between Wigan and Bolton,” he said.

“And we decided to go with Bolton because we already had awarded games to the metropolitan borough of Wigan, with three games at the Leigh Sports Village.

"Yes, we know there were some angry people who were very upset with the decision – but Wigan weren’t the only venue to miss out.”

The DW Stadium will step in to host one of the men’s quarter-finals as well as the women’s group game between England and Canada on November 5.

The five-week tournament will kick off as planned at St James’ Park, Newcastle, on October 15 with the opening ceremony, followed by hosts England taking on Samoa.

Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium and Elland Road will host the men’s semi-finals.

The women’s tournament opens at Headingley on November 1 while a double-header at London’s Copper Box kicks off the wheelchair event on November 3.

The full, revised 61-match schedule, with the vast majority of the 21 venues and 18 host towns and cities based in the north, was unveiled in Manchester last Friday – 12 months out from the final.

Get 20% off our sports subscription package and stay up to date with all the latest Wigan Athletic news with a year’s subscription to WiganToday for less than 9p a day. Use promo code TRANSFER20