Olympic Stadium to host RL Test

Published: Wednesday 25th February 2015 by The News Editor

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London’s Olympic Stadium will host rugby league for the first time in November when England meet New Zealand in the middle game of a three-match Test series.

The 54,000-capacity all-seater stadium was on Wednesday unveiled by the Rugby Football League as one of three venues for a series that will mark England’s first appearance on home soil since their epic clash with the Kiwis in the 2013 World Cup semi-final at Wembley, where a last-gasp Shaun Johnson try and goal sealed a dramatic 20-18 win for the visitors.

The match at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, which will also host five fixtures in the 2015 Rugby Union World Cup, will take place on Saturday, November 7.

The series opens at Hull’s KC Stadium on Sunday, November 1 and will form part of the 150-year celebrations of the host club while the third Test will be at Wigan’s DW Stadium on Saturday, November 14.

RFL chief executive Nigel Wood said: “The Olympic Stadium provided the backdrop to some truly most memorable action at London 2012 and it is simply fantastic that we have reached an agreement for England to play New Zealand there in November.

“The world’s best rugby league players deserve to play on the biggest stages and our supporters deserve the opportunity watch rugby league in the best venues.

“The Kiwis are our oldest rivals on the international stage and the match at Olympic Stadium will provide one of the highlights of a historic year for the sport as we celebrate our 120-year anniversary in 2015.

“Two years have elapsed since we last hosted New Zealand and I am sure that everyone who witnessed that memorable semi-final at Wembley Stadium will be looking forward to experiencing a re-match at Olympic Stadium.

“Hull and Wigan have long and proud traditions as international rugby league venues and the matches at KC Stadium and DW Stadium will be terrific occasions played out in front of bumper crowds.”

The Test series, which was arranged when plans to revive a British Lions tour to Australia collapsed, will give England the chance to avenge both their World Cup semi-final defeat and an equally tense loss to the Kiwis in the 2014 Four Nations Series last November.

England coach Steve McNamara said: “The schedule for the Kiwi series is very exciting and it is fantastic that we have this opportunity to play an historic international at an iconic venue like the Olympic Stadium.

“Playing New Zealand always brings out the best in the England players and the chance to be involved in the match at Olympic Stadium will provide additional incentive for everyone.

“Coming from Hull, I’m also looking forward to the opening match at the KC Stadium, where the atmosphere is guaranteed to be electric, whilst we are assured of a rousing reception at Wigan in front of some of the most passionate fans in the world.”

New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney, who visited the Olympic Stadium last week, said: “I’m really excited that my players have the chance to play in the inaugural rugby league game at such an outstanding venue.

“If we can fill it full of English fans and get it full of noise, it will be a wonderful occasion.

“In our last two performances against England, there has been nothing between the two sides and I imagine this series will be no different.”

Tickets for the matches will go on general sale on Wednesday, March 11.

Published: Wednesday 25th February 2015 by The News Editor

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