Rugby League - World Cup ticket sales please organisers

Organisers are on course to reach their target of 500,000 ticket sales for the 2013 Rugby League World Cup this autumn.

PA Sport
Rugby League - World Cup ticket sales please organisers

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Tournament general manager Sally Bolton has revealed that sales are already within touching distance of six figures and she predicted full houses for both the opening double-header in Cardiff and the Old Trafford final.

The organisers were at Old Trafford on Wednesday to provide an update on the preparations for the 14-team tournament, which is being hosted by England and Wales, and to announce the BBC and satellite company Premier Sports as broadcast partners.

The BBC will show all England games live, starting with the opening ceremony at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on October 26 and the clash with Australia, as well as a quarter-final, a semi-final and the Old Trafford final on November 30.

The BBC deal also incorporates the Four Nations Series in 2014 and 2016 and the next World Cup in 2017, due to be held in the southern hemisphere.

Premier Sports, who already show matches from the Kingstone Press Championship and Australia's NRL, have secured the rights to all 28 World Cup matches, nine of which will be exclusive including three of the quarter-finals and a semi.

The deal, negotiated on behalf of the Rugby Football League by IMG, leaves Super League broadcast partners Sky Sports out in the cold but RFL chief executive Nigel Wood believes it has produced the best of both worlds.

"We've got to see this as an opportunity to take rugby league into other genres of programming that otherwise wouldn't exist," said Wood, the tournament director. "It's a compelling mix of terrestrial and pay television. The Beeb have a long association of covering the sport and Premier are quickly establishing themselves as a must-see channel.

"Die-hard rugby league fans can watch every minute of every game at the tournament and potential new fans can get a real flavour of the top sporting event of 2013 on a truly dedicated rugby league channel.

"We also look forward to other platforms recognising that Premier Sports and its wall-to-wall rugby league coverage should be made accessible to the widest possible potential audience."

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