The Rugby League World Cup hopes to make a big impact in local communities throughout the tournament and beyond
Jason Robinson says the Rugby League World Cup will provide exciting opportunities across the Wigan Borough.
The tournament, which starts on October 15, has games at both Leigh Sports Village and the DW Stadium.
Former England and Wigan winger Robinson states the benefits from the event will be visible for years to come.
He said: “It’s massive for both Wigan and Leigh. It’s huge to get the games for the World Cup, it’ll be great for both towns and spectators in the area to come and see top class rugby league on their doorstep.
“We are really looking forward to welcoming people in for what will be one of the biggest tournaments there have ever been.
“It’s all about reaching out to the community, and giving them access to games. There seems to be a buzz now.
“Obviously it’s been pushed back a year, but during lockdown we all realised that we missed live sport.
“It’s great that all the games are being shown live on the BBC, that will make a massive difference, but it’s also all about experiences. If you get the opportunity to come down and watch it live, then it will be amazing.
“There will always be a great atmosphere in the build-up to games. I know from working with the Jamaican team, they are looking to bring the carnival and culture, so it’s going to be exciting.
“Each team will bring a different style of play, and I’m sure we will see some stars being created.
“I’m also so glad that the women’s and the wheelchair tournament both have this platform.
“This is their time to inspire. We know over the years the game has come on, and more people have taken up the game, but you need the platform which the world cup will give them.
“Hopefully we can create some household names. I can’t tell you how huge it is for the players who don’t normally have this platform. This is their moment, and I’m sure they’ll shine.
“It’s good that rugby league is leading the way on the inclusivity side. It shows that the game is for everybody.
“There’s also a lot of other stuff going on as well, where money is being invested into local clubs as part of the legacy program.
“It’s not just about seeing world class rugby league, it’s about making an impact in the community for long after the tournament has ended.
“If you can try to inspire people and give them a bit of help along the way, then it can make a massive difference.
“It’s amazing what playing amateur rugby league can do for you, it’s given us plenty of opportunities over the years.”
Wigan Council leader David Molyneux agrees it is fitting that the borough has the opportunity to host some games.
“I think we all realise rugby is in the blood of the people in Wigan and Leigh,” he stated.
“To have some excellent fixtures at Leigh Sports Village and the quarter-final at the DW, certainly fits in our profile.
“I know that the community in the borough will get behind the World Cup, because it’s so important for us to once again get on the world stage.
“It’s just absolutely fantastic, and I know the impact it had on some of our local community clubs in terms of legacy funding and helping them deliver what’s needed in some of the more deprived communities across the borough.
“The grassroots is important in any sport, and that’s certainly the case in rugby league.
“I think we can see the impact the amateur games have had on the professional one, in terms of the quality players and the ambitions of young people.
“The all-inclusiveness of this tournament is unique, and I think it’s superb. There’s no barriers now for any young person to say I can make it on the international stage. That is significant in terms of what we have to offer in the borough.
“Since we were told for the first time that we were successful in the bid to host games here, it is something well worth the wait, and it will certainly have a long lasting impact.”
“It’s fantastic isn’t it,” added Jon Dutton, the chief executive of Rugby League World Cup 2021.
“Across the borough, there’s lots to look forward to. We have to use this opportunity, we know there are lots of people who love rugby league here.
“This is the biggest tournament in the history of the sport, and it feels pretty special. Hopefully it will excite people and will get them to come down to the stadium. There are plenty of different options as well, in terms of men’s, women’s and wheelchair.
“Hopefully we can inspire some new girls to play the sport, and get some more people to play wheelchair rugby league, which is truly inclusive. There is something for everyone.
“Our job is to deliver a fantastic tournament, but our social impact programme goes beyond the sport of rugby league. It is about mental fitness, it is about culture, it is about all the other things that give people a reason to get involved, even if they don’t like the sport.
“For the tournament to be successful we have to reach a new audience and it is something we will work very hard on.
“We want people to come in and enjoy rugby league for the first time. Hopefully it can be a real celebration of humanity and the sport.”