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Cup celebrations - Australian Rugby league News
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globalrugbyleague - Mon, 20 Oct 2008 18:48:00 GMT
The captains of the 10 nations contesting the 2008 Rugby League World Cup joined forces in Sydney to celebrate the tournament's first return to Australia in 31 years.

Australia will defend their crown as the holders of the second oldest World Cup in professional sport as they join England, Fiji, France, Ireland, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Scotland and Tonga in the 29-day tournament from October 25 to November 22.

England and Papua New Guinea will play in the first game on Saturday, October 25, in Townsville and France and Scotland will play in Canberra the next afternoon before the official opening ceremony at the Sydney Football Stadium on Sunday, October 26.

The official ceremony will begin with the Rio Tinto Australian Indigenous team taking on a New Zealand Maori side at 4.15pm and feature a tribute to the World Cup heroes from singing sensation Natalie Bassingthwaighte with Australia to begin its World Cup defence against the Kiwis at 8pm.

A total of 125 nations have signed up for television rights to the tournament, ensuring that the opening ceremony will be one of the most widely watched Rugby League events in history.

A total of 18 matches will be played in 12 venues in Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales and the ACT, culminating in Semi-Finals in Brisbane (Nov 15) and Sydney (Nov 16) and the Final in Brisbane (Nov 22).

The public allocation of tickets for the Brisbane Final was sold out in July, 100 days before kick-off.

2008 Rugby League World Cup Tournament Director, Mr Colin Love AM, said the event was set to become the most successful in its 54-year history and the most watched as it showcases the game's diversity through the emerging nations.

Mr Love said the Rugby League World Cup has a potential audience of 112 million homes through the 125 nations with television rights.

"The 2008 Rugby League World Cup is a starting point that will promote future growth of this tournament and put players on a wider international stage," he said.

"It has received strong commercial support, with Federal and State Government backing and an impressive sponsor program."

The 2008 World Cup is the 13th to be contested, the last being played in 2000 and the first in 1954. Australia have won the title nine times.

VB Kangaroos captain Darren Lockyer is the only current Kangaroo to have played in a World Cup.

"It's hard to believe the World Cup is finally here," he said. "Representing Australia is the highest accolade any athlete can aim to achieve and to do so on home soil will be a huge honour."

Australia's campaign for a finals berth also includes the Centenary encounter against England at Melbourne's Telstra Dome on November 2 and a match against Papua New Guinea in Townsville on November 9.

CAPTAINS

AUSTRALIA: Darren Lockyer
NEW ZEALAND: Nathan Cayless
ENGLAND: Jamie Peacock
PAPUA NEW GUINEA: John Wilshere
FIJI: Wes Naiqama
SAMOA: Nigel Vagana
FRANCE: Jerome Guisset
SCOTLAND: Danny Brough
IRELAND: Scott Grix
TONGA: Lopini Paea - Read More, Here