Countdown has started to Rugby League World Cup in Leeds

Rugby League World Cup 2013 fever is starting to take hold in Leeds, with three exciting events taking place during the week which also marked 200 days to go until the first world cup game is played in the city on 8 November.

The National Disability Tag Rugby Festival took place on Tuesday, 23 April at Headingley Carnegie Stadium. The festival brought together children, young people and adults with a learning disability or moderate physical or sensory impairment in the largest dual code disability rugby event of its kind in the country. Thirteen teams took part in the annual event , which was organised by Leeds City Council and run in partnership with the Rugby Football League, Rugby Football Union, Leeds Rugby and Hunslet Hawks.

Another fantastic RLWC2013 related event in Leeds this week saw Year 5 pupils from nine primary schools in Bramley come together for the culmination of a jointly funded project by Leeds Rugby Foundation and the Bramley Cluster of Schools.

The pupils received four sessions of tag rugby coaching at their schools, and were then all brought together for a World Cup Festival at Stanningley RL Club on Wednesday, 24 April. At the festival each school was allocated one of the countries participating in RLWC2013, to do curriculum-based work around followed by a presentation. Stanningley Primary School was the lucky winner on the day representing Samoa. Young people from Leeds West Academy helped to deliver the festival after being trained as RL Young Leaders.

On Thursday, the South Leeds Girls Rugby Festival took place at John Charles Centre for Sport (JCCS). In partnership with Leeds City Council, the Hunslet Hawks community team led by Lois Forsell, a current England Women’s RL Player, hosted six school teams in the festival.

Over 200 girls from Y7 to Y10 from eight schools in south Leeds took part in coaching sessions and played for the opportunity to be involved in the festival. Trophies were presented to the winning teams by Hannah Bairstow, who is a current England Women’s RL player. Twelve girls have since joined the Hunslet Hawks girls and women’s club, which is based at JCCS.

Councillor Adam Ogilvie, executive member for leisure and skills said: “Leeds is a capital for community rugby league, and we are immensely proud of the city's strong heritage and passion for the sport.

“Events like these are a fantastic way to ensure that the sport is accessible to all, and in the year when Leeds welcomes Rugby League World Cup 2013 and the Festival of World Cups to the city, this has never been so important.

“RLWC2013 is the next big sporting event in the UK after the Olympics, and it’s going to be a truly world class tournament. With less than 200 days to go until Leeds hosts its first game, we hope that community events like these and the wide range of activities that are planned will get more people interested and playing rugby league.

“We're equally delighted to be welcoming the teams and supporters involved in the Festival of World Cups this summer, and with all the teams for the women’s, police and students tournaments being based in Leeds throughout, tourism and local businesses around the city will also benefit. "

Monday 22 April marked 200 days to go until the first of two 2013RLWC games taking place in the city is played at Headingley Carnegie Stadium, home of the Leeds Rhinos.

The match will be a key part of the tournament featuring reigning world champions New Zealand taking on southern hemisphere rivals Papua New Guinea on Friday 8 November. New Zealand is the adopted nation of Leeds and the team will be looking for lots of local support as they try to defend their title against the big guns of Australia and co-tournament hosts England and Wales in the next big sporting event in the UK after the Olympics.

Tickets for the New Zealand v Papua New Guinea game and the tournament’s first quarter final on 15 November are already on sale and are selling well. With prices for 55% of the tournament at £20 or less and the cheapest tickets for this game at just £10 (£5 concessions) this is also an affordable event on the doorsteps of local fans.

RLWC2013 general manager, Sally Bolton said: “There are less than 200 days to go now to the New Zealand v Papua New Guinea match at Headingley Carnegie Stadium. Fans in Leeds will be getting excited at seeing some of the best players in the world at their local ground.

“RLWC2013 is the pinnacle of rugby league and it won’t be long now until the stars of the international game will be here in the UK. The buzz is building around all our host towns and cities and we’re sure that will also attract some new fans to our extraordinary sport.”

Gary Hetherington, chief executive of Leeds Rugby said: “There is already a great buzz building for the World Cup and we are excited to be hosting the World Champions and the great rugby league nation, Papua New Guinea.

“With both that game and the quarter final match we will host now confirmed as Friday night games at 8pm, it is exactly what Rhinos fans are used to and I am sure they will give these fixtures, the World Cup and the sport of rugby league their full backing by turning out in large numbers.”

For all up-to-date RLWC2013 news and information follow us on Twitter @LeedsRLWC, like our Facebook page Leeds Rugby League World Cup: Back the Bid, and visit the tournament website