Carter welcomes Wembley decision
The decision to take the 2013 World Cup semi-finals to Wembley has been welcomed by Scott Carter, the RLIF chairman.
The finishing touches to the 14-team tournament were unveiled on Thursday morning at a business conference in Manchester attended by delegates from the Rugby League International Federation.
Organisers announced in March that Cardiff's Millennium Stadium will host the opening ceremony and a double-header to launch the event and also confirmed venues for the group matches and quarter-finals, but kept the big games under wraps after a delay in finalising contracts.
As widely expected, Old Trafford will host the final on Saturday, November 30, but there was some surprise over the choice of the national stadium for both semis.
The games will be played back-to-back on the same day - whether it is Saturday, November 23, or the following day will be determined by broadcasting schedules - and follow a recent trend.
A double-header at Auckland's Eden Park in the 2010 Four Nations Series drew a crowd of 44,324 while 42,344 fans watched the Four Nations double header at Wembley last November.
"The fixture last year in the Four Nations worked," said Carter. "There was a fantastic atmosphere.
"The double header format does work and, if you're in England and you've got England playing in the big games, then it will be successful.
"We like the double headers and we like moving those big games around to the stadiums that can honour the fixture."
Wembley, of course, annually hosts the Challenge Cup final and has in the past attracted bumper crowds for rugby league internationals. For the 1992 World Cup final there was an attendance of 73,632 while 66,540 fans attended the 1995 final.
"We thought it was a concept definitely worth repeating following the success in the Gillette Four Nations," tournament director Nigel Wood told today's press conference.
"It's right and proper that major games in the World Cup are played in the nation's capital.
"Wembley have shown a remarkable appetite to stage more rugby league. I think they are acutely aware that rugby league has a long tradition at the national stadium.
"That relationship is developing all the time, particularly with the erection of a statue to reflect the role rugby league has played at the national stadium."
The tournament will get under way on Saturday, October, 26, when co-hosts Wales meet qualifiers Italy, followed by England's group A clash with favourites Australia, and culminate at Old Trafford five weeks later.
Old Trafford was also the venue for the last final to be held in England in 2000.
"The place is synonymous with great rugby league events over the past few years, including previous World Cup finals and, of course, home of the Stobart Super League Grand Final," said Wood.
Meanwhile, Carter says the RLIF will shortly invite tenders for the next World Cup in 2017.
"New Zealand and Australia have tabled an expression of interest but there will be a formal process which we will initiate very shortly," he said.
"We will call for expressions of interest from any other nations that may be interested and make a decision before the next World Cup so that the next hosts have a four-year build-up."
Carter, who last year beat England's Richard Lewis to the post of RLIF chairman, says he will put himself up for re-election at this week's annual meeting.
"My view is that the board should choose its chair every year as a matter of course so I will put that on the table," he said.
The board will need to elect a new vice-chairman following Lewis' move from the RFL to the All England Club, with Wood certain to be in the frame.
Carter says he believes the appointment of John Grant, a former Warrington and Australia player, as chairman of the new commission set up to run the domestic game in Australia can have a positive spin-off for the international game.
The Australians demonstrated an apparent lack of enthusiasm for the international game by forcing the Four Nations into cold storage this year and Carter admits that perception was enhanced by suggestions they want to scrap the mid-year Anzac Test.
"I have heard that and there has been an element of truth in it," said Carter.
"As a former Kangaroo, John Grant has indicated very strongly to New Zealand that he wants to see international football as the pinnacle and he is very keen to ensure the international calendar is quite rich. I think that's very promising."