A bid which aims to bring international Rugby League World Cup games and players to the Tees Valley in 2021 has been officially kicked off by local team Yarm Wolves.
Matty Lynn, from the Tees Valley under-16s rugby league team Yarm Wolves, kicked a rugby ball “over the Transporter Bridge”, alongside representatives from the group behind the application.
If successful, the bid could give the region an economic boost of up to £8million, attracting tourists from across the world to the area.
It includes a proposal to host international group games and a semi-final in the men’s competition as well as to provide a base for the Australian National Rugby League Team.
It outlines Tees Valley’s location, exceptional facilities and key venues including the Riverside Stadium and Northern Echo Arena and previous experience in hosting international sporting teams at Rockliffe Hall.
It also highlights the region’s commitment to creating a lasting legacy for the game.
Matches taking place in the region would also work in support of Tees Valley’s application to be named City of Culture 2025.
The bid is being put together by a partnership of the Tees Valley Combined Authority, Middlesbrough Council, Darlington Borough Council, Middlesbrough Football Club, and Darlington Mowden Park RFC.
The bid has had strong backing from the Tees Valley Mayor, Ben Houchen, who said: “We’ve got this bid off to a flying start.
“We have worked to produce an excellent application that promotes our region and explains why we would be a great fit to host the Rugby League World Cup and spread its message.
“We’ve started doing our bit and now it’s down to everyone in the Tees Valley to show their support to bring this world-class event to our area. I’d ask everyone to back the bid, shout about the Tees Valley on social media and get in touch on the Enjoy Tees Valley website.”
Middlesbrough mayor Dave Budd said: “This is a huge chance to showcase Tees Valley as a vibrant, modern, cultural hotspot to a global audience.
“Securing games in this top-quality competition will mark us out as the place to be and, by capturing the region’s community spirit, will help rugby league grow.”
Mark Ellis from Middlesbrough Football Club said: “We have the excellent resources and facilities necessary to host international games of this size with a successful track record in hosting Team GB before the 2012 Olympics and a number of England U21 International games.
“However, we are confident that it is the passionate people of Tees Valley that will get behind the tournament and make it a lasting success with a strong legacy.”
Lee Rust, Darlington Mowden Park managing director, said: “The Club has a proven record of welcoming international teams from across the world with open arms.
“New Zealand All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen sung the praises of our outstanding facilities when Mowden Park played host to the All Blacks on their way to winning the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
“This bid gives us another perfect opportunity to highlight not just the facility but also the North East.”
• To show your support for the bid and to find out more, visit www.enjoyteesvalley.com/rugby and use the hashtags #BackTheBid and #TeesValley2021 when talking about the application on social media.