Following on from Monza staging a match in this autumn’s Rugby League World Cup European qualifiers, in another first for the sport, Valencia is set to host a tie, with Quatre Carreres announced as the venue for Spain’s Pool B clash with Ireland on 22 October.
The round two game could be potentially decisive for the Spanish following on from their away encounter in Moscow seven days earlier, and is the latest chapter in the young rugby league country’s unexpected march towards the finals.
“The Ireland game will not only be against our highest-level opposition in our history but it’s possibly our chance to progress through to the Antipodes next year,” said Spanish head coach Darren Fisher. “Spain is well known for the ex-pat community here and I’m sure Irish supporters will be out to enjoy the match in Valencia, it is a terrific city.
“It’s exciting to be part of the qualifying rounds, we will try not to get carried away too much in the emotion of the occasions. I will be preparing the squad for two very challenging, different styles in Russia and Ireland. The game has already attracted a lot of interest.”
Spain defeated Latvia in the European Championship C pre-qualifier, then surprised Malta and Greece to take their place in this autumn’s European qualifiers, as well as gaining promotion to European Championship B, which will resume in 2018.
Ireland face Russia at home on 29 October and will be seeking to win the group in front of their own fans.
IRL director Richard Egan said: “We are really looking forward to visiting Valencia. There is an air of uncertainty around the Spanish team as we haven’t faced them before, but we have seen their results and we know we will need to prepare for a tough encounter.”
Rugby League World Cup 2017 European qualifiers – Pool B match 2
22 October – Spain v Ireland, Quatre Carreres, Valencia (kick off 1pm)