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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

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World Cup at new stadium paves way for Super League

THE Rugby League World Cup in Whitehaven can be a stepping stone to a Super League club in West Cumbria.

That’s the hope of Haven chief executive Barry Richardson, after the planned new £5.5m Pow Beck Stadium was last week named as a venue for two matches in next year’s tournament.

Scotland will be based in the area during the group stage and face Tonga and Italy at the new facility.

Richardson said: “The new stadium will be a massive lift for Copeland with its wide-ranging community use, but also for the future of rugby league. Already the benefits are clear, as without the stadium West Cumbria would not be hosting a team, and games, in the World Cup.

“The selection of West Cumbria for this event is fantastic news and our big focus on staging the World Cup is to attract people to the area and also show rugby league of the highest level to both current and new supporters, leaving a legacy to hopefully attract these potential new supporters to the sport for the future, along with encouraging more players to our great game.

“In addition to the new stadium we need to eventually have a Super League team based here in West Cumbria and the World Cup can show the rugby league world that by housing well-supported games and showing true West Cumbrian hospitality it can provide a stepping stone.

“In the next couple of weeks Whitehaven will hopefully have several current Papua New Guinea internationals playing in our colours and engaging in our community.

“These players will be playing in the World Cup in this country so this is a great opportunity to bring the flavour of the World Cup to West Cumbria prior to 2013.

“We should not underestimate what this means to the area and I would like to thank the Rugby Football League who have supported our consortium’s bid, despite uncertainties over the stadium.

“And also Copeland Council for the leadership, drive and passion they have brought to both the stadium project and the World Cup, and the Energy Coast for its financial support, with the result being a remarkable achievement for us all here in Copeland.”

The World Cup announcement went ahead without a formal agreement in place on access to the Pow Beck site.

A deal has been done however between Whitehaven Miners Social Welfare, who own the access road, and stadium partners Whitehaven Rugby League, Whitehaven Amateurs Football Club, Copeland Council and Britain’s Energy Coast.

The details are believed to be in the hands of lawyers, with the parties expected to sign over the next few weeks.

Paul Walker, chief executive of Copeland Council, said: “Our plan is to have the contractor on site in spring this year with a view to completing the stadium in advance of the 2013 season.

“It’s probably about a nine-months build programme, but clearly that final detail is to be negotiated with the contractor, once appointed.

“It’s absolutely fantastic for Whitehaven, Copeland and West Cumbria as a whole. It’s a great achievement for everybody.

“I have to say, all the partners have worked really well. You have your ups and downs with partnerships, but you have to work through them and that’s what we have done over the last few weeks.

“We have got an agreement to go forward. We have to dot the i’s and cross the t’s now, and I’m really pleased and grateful for everybody who has supported it.”

Richardson welcomed news that Haven would host Super League Salford City Reds in the Carnegie Challenge Cup fourth round next month.

“We have two more important league games to play first, but it is a fantastic draw for us,” he said. “We’ve had some great occasions here against Super League teams over the years and we’ve put up some good performances.

“This one’s a great shot in the arm for the club and we’re looking for a good atmosphere.”

Haven travel to Gateshead on Sunday and then host Workington Town on Goodd Friday, before Salford’s visit the following week.

Pride of Five £100 winners are: Ian Newton, C/O The Puncheon, with ticket number 6088; WR Brown, The Larches Orgill, Egremont, 441; Mr Bennett, Springfield Avenue, High Meadows, 2,081; D McKee, Coronation Drive, Frizington, 3,861; W Burns, Lakeland Avenue, Seacliffe, 3,066.

Blue Club winners: £250 - W Curwen; £100 - A Gill; £50 each - B Courtney, A Garraway, A Freeman.

Leeds Line winners: V4683, S Hirst; B3710, Ian Kirk; N6821, J Fairchild Snr, K1678, Matthew Oldroyd; A5003, Paul Fletcher.

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