Bristol Bid Gets Big Backing
Lesley Vainikolo voices support for Bristol World Cup Bid
The bid to bring the Rugby League World Cup 2013 to Bristol is in full swing and has already received some high profile support.
Dual code star Lesley Vainikolo, nicknamed "The Volcano" due to his explosive playing style, expressed support for the bid that has gained momentum over the weekend since its formal announcement.
Vainikolo, a prolific try scorer for Bradford Bulls and now Gloucester Rugby Union after switching codes in 2007, was enthusiastic about the prospect of seeing World Cup games held in the South West. Speaking at the Gloucestershire Schools 1908 Cup competition, he openly said, "It would be awesome."
Discussing whether the traditional Rugby Union crowds of the South West would take to Rugby League, he said, "Definitely. I think they will. It will give them a chance to know the game and learn the game a bit more. All the fans will love it."
He also cited the Cheltenham competition that saw 300 schoolchildren turn out to play Rugby League as reason to be optimistic for the growth of the sport in the region. "As you see out here, the kids are doing really well. They've got a lot of skills and you want to show them the game of Rugby League down here."
If the bid is successful, Bristol will stage its first international Rugby League match for over a century; The touring Australian Kangaroos faced West & Wales at Ashton Gate in December 1911 in a game which the tourists won 23 - 3.
Prospective games would be played at Bristol City's new ground and the Memorial Stadium, with Filton College being touted as a base for a team training camp.
The bid comes from within the region's Rugby League Community and is spearheaded by Bristol Sonics, a club with aspirations to be a part of the RFL's expansion of the Co-operative Championships between 2012 and 2014. It is supported by a wide range of partner businesses, local government agencies and sports organizations in the region.
Bristol City Football Club publicly announced their support for the bid on the field at Saturday's 3 - 0 home win against Hull. City Director Phil Cole said, "We are delighted to be a part of the Bristol bid.
"In autumn 2013 we will hopefully be settling in to our new stadium which will provide the tournament with an exceptional venue to host games.
"But this isn't just about providing a great experience at the tournament - a successful Bristol bid will be a great opportunity for the city and for the growth of Rugby League across the region."
Bristol Rovers FC are also on board, and Bristol City and South Gloucestershire Councils, WESPORT Sports Partnership and tourism marketing body Destination Bristol have joined the consortium.
Touch Bristol, Bristol Rugby, Street Games, Bristol NHS, Bath & NE Somerset Council, North Somerset Council and Access Sports have all put forward their backing. Bid support also comes from all 17 RLC and SRL clubs, and from the Universities and RL Associations across the whole South West.
Anyone can support the initiative by Liking the Bristol Bid RLWC 2013 Facebook page