By Conor Kelly, Date: 1/2/13
Irelandâ€™s Rugby League World Cup 2013 (RLWC2013) campaign has begun in earnest with a visit to the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) in Preston where the squad will train during the competition.
As the countdown to the World Cup continues, the University today welcomed Irelandâ€™s Head Coach Mark Aston, General Manager Gordon Matthews and Player/Coach Ged Corcoran to its multi-million pound UCLan Sports Arena (USA) which has been selected as the teamâ€™s official training venue.
The squad will use the arenaâ€™s rugby pitches and strength and conditioning suite, which is fully equipped with the new Keiser pneumatic machines and Eleiko free weights equipment, whilst the Universityâ€™s recently refurbished Westleigh Conference Centre will be available to the team as an area for relaxation.
Head Coach Mark Aston commented: â€œWeâ€™ve had a warm welcome from UCLan. The facilities at the arena are fantastic and Iâ€™m looking forward to bringing the full squad back with me in October where we will be based for the entire world cup. The first game is against Fiji in Rochdale on the 28 October and the facilities at UCLan will enable us to be fully prepared going into the opening game.
â€œI hope our presence will boost interest in rugby league within the local community and we want to give something back to Preston by linking up with local schools and clubs during our stay.â€
UCLan is one of only two universities and the only venue in Lancashire to be chosen as a host venue for the 14 nation tournament that will be held in England and Wales in October and November. UCLan, in partnership with Preston City Council and the Marriott Hotel, beat off tough competition from other venues in the selection process.
The Academic Director of Sport at UCLan, Dr Adrian Ibbetson, commented: â€œWe are proud to host the Irish Rugby League Squad as they prepare for the Rugby League World Cup 2013. The World Cup organisers were thoroughly impressed with our multi-million pound facilities, including our first-class pitches and strength and conditioning area and we look forward to welcoming the full squad in the build-up to the competition.â€
UCLan has a long and successful relationship with Rugby League and has an on-going sponsorship deal with Super League giants Wigan Warriors. The deal sees the Warriors benefit from fitness tests, video analysis support from UCLan and a number of University degree places for its accelerate squad players and staff.
RLWC2013 kicks off in Cardiff on October 26 when host nations Wales and England take on Italy and Australia respectively. 14 nations then go head to head in three groups for a place in the semi-finals double-header in the spectacular setting of Wembley Stadium in London. The tournament also visits France and Ireland as RWLC2013 looks to help the game develop in Europe.