World Cup Wednesdays: Sell out crowd sees Sonny Bill lead the way for Kiwis

Each Wednesday in the build up the 2021 Rugby League World Cups, we will have a special feature as we build up to the biggest ever World Cup in the game’s history looking at those who helped create the legacy and who will be aiming to make their own history this Autumn.

Back in 2013, Emerald Headingley Stadium experienced an unforgettable night that only comes about when the World Cup is in town with a capacity crowd of over 18,000 packed in to see Sonny Bill Williams and the defending World Champions New Zealand taken on Papua New Guinea.

Rugby League and sporting fans alike flocked to Emerald Headingley witness New Zealand see off the challenge of Papua New Guinea and book their Quarter Final.

The game created massive interest amongst sporting fans across West Yorkshire and the fans did not disappoint as a crowd of 18,180 was announced becoming the fifth highest of all time in the World Cup for a pool game not involving a host nation and the biggest in 45 years.

New Zealand took control of the game with Sonny Bill Williams scoring a hat trick to help his side to a 40-0 lead at the break however, backed by a vocal crowd cheering on the underdogs, Papua New Guinea fought their ground in the second half. They crossed for two tries, the pick of which came from future Rhino Wellington Albert with two minutes to go which rounded off a memorable night. Another future Rhino, hooker Paul Aiton received a warm reception from his new supporters and speaking after the game he thanked the Leeds public, he commented, “It was an incredible atmosphere, it felt like there was 100,000 fans out there and that was something special.”

Headingley has got heritage in the World Cup as the only venue still in use that has featured in all five previous World Cups in this country including hosting the Final in 1970 between Australia and Great Britain. That game posted the biggest ever crowd for a World Cup game at Headingley with 18,776, narrowly beating the visit of the Kiwis.

New Zealand will play two pool fixtures at Emerald Headingley at this year’s World Cup with their clash against Jamaica on Saturday 30th October followed by their clash with Ireland on Friday 5th November. You can book your tickets now for both these clashes.

Previous World Cup games at Emerald Headingley:

18,776 Australia v Great Britain 1970 (Final)
18,180 New Zealand v Papua New Guinea
16,207 New Zealand v Scotland (Quarter Final)
15,405 England v Ireland 2000 (Quarter Final)
15,169 Great Britain v Australia 1970
14,041 England v South Africa 1995
10,842 England v France 10,842 1975
10,773 Australia v New Zealand 1960
10,052 England v Fiji 2000

New Zealand: Hoffman, Tuivasa-Sheck, Whare, Goodwin, Vatuvei, Foran, Johnson, Matulino, Luke, Bromwich, Glenn, Williams, Taylor. Replacements: Moa, Kasiano, Nuuausala, Leuluai.

Papua New Guinea: Mead, Abavu, Yere, Paniu, N. McDonald, Thompson, Aiye, Costigan, Wabo, Bruno, Nandye, Chan, Pandia. Replacements: Albert, Aiton, Tali, Mexico.

Referee: Ashley Klein (Australia).


Tickets for the Rugby League World Cup 2021 are now on General Sale.

The organisers promise to make this the biggest and best tournament, the most inclusive and accessible in modern history with tickets starting at an affordable £2.21 and 80 per cent of tickets priced below £50.

The demand now means that matches across the tournament now have limited availability and tickets for wheelchair matches at Sheffield EIS are currently unavailable. Tickets will be on sale on a first-come, first-served basis until Tuesday 1 June, where tickets will go off sale for a three-week period until Monday 21 June for seat assignment.

Fans who can no longer attend matches will be able to put their tickets on the Official Resale Platform through the ticketing website later in the year. This will be the safest and most secure way to sell tickets at face value and will allow fellow fans to enjoy the unforgettable atmosphere of RLWC2021.

Tournament organisers also remind fans of the ticket refund guarantee for all ticket purchasers should there be restrictions on crowds at the event and to reassure fans in the unfortunate circumstance the event has to be cancelled. More information is available here.

Premium seats and Hospitality experiences are still on sale and available for all matches and will give fans the opportunity to secure a place at the tournament in addition to enjoying the best match day experience each venue has to offer. More details available here.

Fans can also secure their ticket through booking their Squad Trip including accommodation and experiences all in one place – making it easy to plan your trip and giving you a great choice across our host towns and cities. Book Squad Trips now.

For full ticketing details visit


Premium seats and Hospitality experiences remain on sale and available for all matches in Leeds – giving fans the opportunity to secure a place at the tournament in addition to enjoying the best match day experience each venue has to offer. More details available at