WARRINGTON, along with 38 other towns and cities, has expressed an interest in acting as a host for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup in England.

The town hosted Samoa for the 2013 tournament and had two games staged at The Halliwell Jones Stadium.

Samoa were involved in both games at The Wire’s home ground, losing to New Zealand in the pool stages before being beaten by Fiji in the quarter-finals.

Only venues with capacities of more than 12,000 will be considered as match venues.

Even before the final whistle was blown on the 2017 tournament Down Under at the weekend, the Rugby Football League was swinging into action as it picked up the baton for the 16th World Cup.

“My own thoughts have already turned to the task ahead in delivering a truly outstanding tournament in 2021,” said RLWC2021 chief executive Jon Dutton, who was among the organisers for the 2013 event that was staged in England, Wales and France, and was among the 40,000 crowd for Saturday’s 2017 final between England and Australia in Brisbane.

“Next month we are hosting three workshops in Manchester, Leeds and London which will trigger the race for towns and cities to put their best foot forward and develop a bid.

“So far we have received 39 expressions of interest and are both confident and excited that this cohort will provide great opportunities for the tournament to meet its objectives of being the most attended and viewed World Cup ever, along with being the most digitally-connected entertainment event of 2021.”

Dutton says the bidding process to act as hosts for matches, base camps and training venues for the men’s, women’s and wheelchair tournaments will close at the end of July next year with the venues due to be announced in early 2019.

The 2017 World Cup drew an aggregate crowd of just over 372,000 for the 28 matches, including five sell-outs, which is well short of the 458,463 that watched the 2013 tournament which helped generate a profit of more than £3.7million.

The financial return has yet to be announced for the 2017 World Cup but officials were delighted with a television audience of 7.2 million across Australia, with 2.7 million watching the final, well outstripping the figures for the first day of the second Ashes Test going on at the same time.

That match also drew an average BBC television audience of 1.5 million, peaking at 2 million.

The 2021 World Cup is being expanded to include 16 teams, compared to 14 for each of the last two, and all 31 games will be broadcast live on the BBC.

Organisers have set themselves a target of attracting a million fans to the games and say 80 per cent of the games will be held in the game’s traditional heartland as part of the partnership with the Government, which has agreed to contribute a total investment of £25million, and its commitment to the northern powerhouse.