'Hosting world Cup would be boost for kids' says Doncaster teacher

Children from Norton Junior school pictured with members of the New Zealand rugby team after watching them perform the Haka. Picture: Marie Caley D5639MC
Children from Norton Junior school pictured with members of the New Zealand rugby team after watching them perform the Haka. Picture: Marie Caley D5639MC

Doncaster teacher Richard Henfield reckons he knows exactly how much both Doncaster and rugby would benefit from the world cup coming to town.

Doncaster teacher Richard Henfield reckons he knows exactly how much both Doncaster and rugby would benefit from the world cup coming to town.

That's because five years ago he saw how much impact an friendly match had on his pupils at Norton Primary School.

Doncaster is bidding to host matches at the 2021 Rugby World Cup Finals and Richard is giving his backing to the Free Press' campaign to bring it to the town.

Back in 2013 Doncaster hosted a friendly between New Zealand and the Cook Islands.

And Mr Henfield's school linked up with the Kiwis for a school visit.

Initially pupils visited the players at their team hotel, the Earl of Doncaster, and the youngsters performed a traditional Maori haka for them.

In return, the players visited the school, performed their own haka, and spent time with youngsters in their classrooms.

And a delighted Mr Henfield found the result was inspired pupils, with many taking up rugby as a result.

He said: "It was an amazing experience. Our pupils discovered that these amazing athletes were just normal people. We had a player in each classroom who answered questions about their lives.

"It was inspirational for them, and a number of them took up rugby as a result of that.

"The children saw the players and thought 'I can do that'. They are normal people with families. Some of the players said how much they loved writing, and for some of the boys that was inspirational. Some of them were not inclined to do writing, but that gave them a vehicle to write - it showed them that you can write as well as being a rugby league professional.

"I would back the Free Press campaign 100 per cent. It would be amazing for the community."

We launched our Rugby League World Cup 2021: Touch Down in Doncaster campaign to support efforts to make the borough a host town for the sport's most glittering showcase event.

We are also urging schools to join in, by designing posters in support of the campaign. We will print as many of them as we can in the paper.

If you want to get involved email david.kessen@jpress.co.uk, marking your message World Cup Campaign.

A joint bid has been put together involving Doncaster Council, Business Doncaster, and Club Doncaster, the umbrella organisation which works with the borough's professional sports clubs. They put together a case which will be presented to the organisers of the Rugby League World Cup, who will select where the games will be played during the tournament in 2021.

In total, 16 teams will play 31 matches during the tournament. There will also be 14 venues hosting games.