World Cup rugby comes to Workington
Last updated at 20:01, Thursday, 19 July 2012
Workington will be showcased to a huge audience when it hosts two Rugby League World Cup matches next year.
The games are a major coup for the town, which stepped in to rescue them for West Cumbria after the plug was pulled on staging the matches at Whitehaven.
Allerdale council estimates that the games will boost the local economy by more than £700,000.
The matches were originally scheduled for a proposed new Pow Beck Stadium in Whitehaven, but guarantees could not be obtained that it would be built in time.
World Cup organisers this week revealed that they had instead accepted a bid from Workington Town to stage the games at Derwent Park.
The bid was backed by Allerdale council and Britain’s Energy Coast.
The games will be between Scotland and Ireland and Scotland and Tonga.
Dave Bowden, chairman of Workington Town, said: “It is not just a sporting event, as it’s about all the benefits that will continue within our local community after the games have finished.”
He envisaged a sporting legacy for local youngsters.
There are plans for community activities, including a mini world cup for schools, work with local amateur rugby clubs, and a World Cup carnival float to spread information about the games.
Mr Bowden said: “Hopefully we can raise aspirations and raise participation in sport in general and rugby league in particular.”
Work has started on plans to upgrade Derwent Park for the games, with £350,000 funding from Britain’s Energy Coast and £100,000 from Allerdale council and other sources. It is hoped that most of the work will be complete by the start of next season.
Mr Bowden praised Britain’s Energy Coast, Allerdale council leader Alan Smith, executive member Mark Fryer and club officials for their enthusiasm towards the project.
Brian Wilson, chairman of Britain’s Energy Coast, said: “This provides the whole of West Cumbria with an economic and social opportunity.”
Katie Read, West Cumbria Tourism manager, said: “We look forward to welcoming the teams and their supporters who will provide a significant boost to the economy.”
Councillor Smith said: “We couldn’t afford to lose this bid. If we had, it would have been a big void in West Cumbria, an absolute travesty.
“This gives people the chance to see world class players in their own back garden.”
Workington MP Sir Tony Cunningham said: “This is a great day for Workington and a tribute to the club and Allerdale council.”
The tournament kicks off on October 26, 2013, with matches played in England, Wales, Ireland and France.
First published at 19:20, Thursday, 19 July 2012
Published by http://www.timesandstar.co.uk
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