England Knights will play Jamaica in an historic international fixture at the Emerald Headingley Stadium this October, as part of both countries’ countdown to the 2021 Rugby League World Cup.
The match will be played on the afternoon of Sunday October 20 (3pm kick-off), eight days after the domestic season concludes with the Betfred Super League Grand Final, and will provide senior international action on home soil in an autumn which is set to see the England Women and Wheelchair teams joining the reformed Great Britain men’s squad in travelling to the southern hemisphere.
The Knights were re-established in 2018 as part of the Rugby Football League’s England Performance Unit, playing their first two matches since 2013 on a short tour to Papua New Guinea last autumn – and eight members of the first Knights Performance Squad that was announced in May 2018 have already earned promotion to the senior England set-up to make Test debuts.
A revised KPS for 2019 will be announced on Monday morning (July 15) at 10am, ahead of the revised England Elite Performance Squad (EPS) being announced at 2pm.
The Reggae Warriors continued their unlikely Rugby League story by beating the USA in Jacksonville last October to secure their first ever World Cup appearance.
The fixture against the Knights will therefore work on two levels for Jamaica, providing high-quality international experience for their team at one of the host venues for RLWC2021, and also a platform for them to connect with the hundreds of thousands of British Jamaicans – the second-largest Jamaican population outside the island itself.
Kevin Sinfield, the RFL’s Rugby Director who leads the England Performance Unit, said: “This is a fixture that works on so many levels, and I hope it will capture the imagination of Rugby League supporters and Jamaicans in Leeds, Yorkshire and well beyond.
“The Knights are an important part of the EPU as we build towards hosting the World Cup in 2021, and it was a priority to find them meaningful competition again this autumn after the unique experiences they gained in Papua New Guinea last year.
“The way the Jamaica team has developed over the last few years to reach the World Cup has already been a bit of a Rugby League fairytale, and it’s great that the Knights can help them with their preparations for RLWC2021.”
Jermaine Coleman, Jamaica’s head coach who grew up as a member of Leeds’s Jamaican community before joining London Skolars as a player and since 2015 as their head coach, added: “This is an exciting opportunity for us as team. The effort that has gone into the journey so far has been unbelievable. We have a fantastic group of people involved with the team both on and off the field. We see this as our first steps in our preparation to the World Cup. The England Knights will be an excellent team full of Super League quality from 1-17 so the step up for us is going to be a challenge. The one thing this group does better than anything is rise to challenges so we can’t wait for this game opportunity.”
Match tickets will be on sale from 9am on Monday 15 July and priced from £10 Adults, £5 U21s and £3 U16s. Concessions are senior over 65 and students, under 21s, disabled – wheelchair and ambulant, and juniors are 16 and under.
You will be able to buy tickets online at tickets.therhinos.co.uk, by calling 0371 423 1315, or coming down to the Leeds Rugby Ticket Office at Emerald Headingley Stadium. All bookings will be subject to a £1.50 booking fee (excluding Print @ Home tickets).