Bristol Sonics Chairman Phil Cole today urged organizers of the 2013 Rugby League World Cup not to pass up the opportunity to award Bristol the right to host matches in the tournament – and boost Rugby League in the South West in the process.
Talking after welcoming members of the 2013 Rugby League World Cup bid inspection team to Bristol City’s Ashton Gate Stadium on Thursday, Cole explained how hosting matches in the tournament would provide a “huge boost” for Rugby League in the city and the wider region.Bristol-born Cole, who helped set-up the South West’s leading community Rugby League club, Bristol Sonics, in 2002, said: “I can’t stress how much of a boost to the game in the region hosting matches in the 2013 Rugby League World Cup would be. Giving Bristol the opportunity to host International Rugby League would leave a lasting legacy and help us boost the game’s profile and, ultimately, get more youngsters playing the game – not just in the city but throughout the South West.”It would mean a huge amount for volunteers and supporters in the South West to be a part of Rugby League’s biggest global tournament. The game has made huge strides in the region in the last decade, but to really kick on and lay down lasting roots we need the opportunity that the 2013 World Cup would provide to engage with both youngsters and sports enthusiasts. To have international teams playing here would be a dream – not just for myself or the Sonics, but for everyone that cares about the sport in the region.”Directly appealing to the 2013 Rugby League World Cup organizing committee, Cole highlighted the great work that has recently been done in the region, which has resulted in a great increase in player numbers and engagement with youngsters in everywhere from Bristol and South Gloucestershire to Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Somerset and Devon.Cole said: “Over the last 2 years, we’ve seen a huge increase in interest in the sport and, ultimately, player numbers. At the Sonics alone we now have six junior cluster clubs at U14 level, an U16 side, two open-age adult teams and two social touch rugby teams. We’ve also been working with the RFL to offer coaching in schools, and have run two schools competitions in the last six months. We’re not alone, either – junior coaching is now happening in Swindon, Somerset, Gloucester, Cheltenham and Devon. Filton College now runs an elite Rugby League Academy programme for 16 to 18 year-olds. There are also plenty of armed forces sides in the region, and successful student teams at the University of Gloucestershire, Bristol University, Bath University and Exeter University. These are exciting times for the sport. If the 2013 World Cup came to Bristol it would really help move the game forward here.”Cole was among a delegation of Bristol 2013 RL World Cup Host City Bid Team members who welcomed the Rugby Football League’s inspection committee to the city on Thursday. Other partners in the bid team include Bristol City Council, South Gloucestershire Council, Destination Bristol, Filton College, Westsport, Bristol City FC and Bristol Rovers FC.The 2013 Rugby League World Cup inspection committee will this week visit each city that has bid to host matches in the 2013 tournament, which is being jointly hosted by England and Wales. An announcement on which cities will host matches will be announced in the autumn.

Leave a Reply