England have officially launched a bid to host the 2021 Rugby League World Cup ©RFL

England has launched a bid to host the 2021 Rugby League World Cup, it was announced today.

England staged the most recent World Cup in 2013, which was won by Australia - co-hosts of the 2017 event with New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

British Government backing of £15 million ($20 million/18 million) has been pledged to support England's proposed hosting of the 2021 tournament.

If the bid is successful, 12 stadiums across the country will be selected from a shortlist which will include a variety of rugby league arenas and a number of other iconic sporting venues such as Old Trafford and Etihad Stadium in Manchester, St James’ Park in Newcastle and Wembley in London. 

"The Rugby League World Cup 2021 provides an ideal opportunity for the nation to demonstrate again to a global audience its ability to stage a world-class sporting event we all can be proud of," Rugby Football League chairman Brian Barwick said at the launch of the bid held at Old Trafford. 

"It will top off a superb decade of incredible sporting events held in this country that began in 2012 with the London Olympics.

"I am proud to present the English bid, that includes plans to host the Women's and Wheelchair World Cups and one that I think offers rugby league the best opportunity to grow as a sport both in this country and importantly helping the International Federation to grow the game across the globe."

The host country for the 2021 tournament, which will grow in size to 16 teams and 31 matches, is due to be decided by the Rugby League International Federation in autumn.

England is the first country to officially declare that it is bidding but they could face competition from South Africa and North America. 

Besides the Government pledging £15 million, a further £10 million ($13 million/€12 millionhas been committed by Government for Rugby League Infrastructure in the North of England.

"The UK is proud to have delivered some of the most memorable major sporting events in recent history including the hugely successful 2013 Rugby League World Cup. We now want to build on the success of 2013 by hosting the competition once again in 2021," John Whittingdale, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, said.

“The Government's support for the RFL's bid will help put on a larger tournament that not only brings economic benefits to host towns and cities in rugby league's heartland, but promotes the sport to a wider audience both nationally and around the world."