Moreton Bay has been selected by rugby league’s international governing body to host the 2018 Rugby League Commonwealth Championship.
The two-day event, to be held on February 23 and 24, will feature Commonwealth nations competing in a nine-a-side exhibition competition at Redcliffe’s revamped 10,000-capacity Dolphin Stadium, in the lead-up to the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games (GC2018).
The selection comes after a successful joint bid by Moreton Bay Regional Council, Moreton Bay Region Industry and Tourism, Redcliffe District Rugby League Football Club and Redcliffe Leagues Club to the Rugby League International Federation.
Moreton Bay Regional Council Mayor Sutherland said the event was a major coup for Moreton Bay, the home of rugby league immortal Arthur Beetson and successful players including Brent Tate, Matt Gillett, Jack Reed and Petero Civoniceva.
“Moreton Bay is no stranger to hosting large sporting events, and I’m thrilled to be able to welcome players, coaches, staff and die-hard league supporters from around the world for the 2018 Commonwealth championship,” Mayor Sutherland said.
“An event like this will not only broadcast some of the best rugby league talent to all corners of the globe, it will also reinforce Moreton Bay’s reputation as a destination for international travellers and premier events.
“The Commonwealth championship will provide a huge injection into our region’s local economy and will see countless visitors stay at local hotels, eat at our best restaurants and cafes, and discover our iconic attractions.
“As a hotbed for rugby league, I can’t think of a better fit for the championship than right here in Moreton Bay.”
Rugby League International Federation Chief Executive Officer David Collier said locals and visitors to south-east Queensland would be treated to some exhilarating rugby league action prior to the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.
“The Rugby League Commonwealth Championship featured as part of the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games and was a huge success with players and fans alike,” Mr Collier said.
“Australians love their rugby league and Queensland is home to some of the greatest rugby league legends of all time.
“I can’t think of a better location to stage the Championship, which will include a female Championship for the first time.
“I thank all those involved in helping to bring this event to life prior to the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games and I am sure the Championship and Games will both receive plenty of support.”
Minister for the Commonwealth Games Kate Jones said the 2018 Rugby League Commonwealth Championship, part of the Embracing 2018 program, would bring the excitement of GC2018 to Redcliffe.
‘‘We all know that Queenslanders love their league so the event is guaranteed to be a great drawcard for the Moreton Bay region,” Minister Jones said.
“Working closely with the Embracing 2018 Moreton Bay Statewide Working Group, the Queensland Government played a key role in bringing this fantastic event to regional Queensland.
“Sport is an integral part of the healthy Queensland lifestyle and through the Embracing 2018 program, we want to inspire active communities across the state.”
Minister Jones said the Government was committed to ensuring the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games brought benefits to communities Queensland-wide.
Redcliffe MP Yvette D’Ath said hosting the championship was a big win for Redcliffe and the Moreton Bay Region.
“The Palaszczuk Government is supporting the expansion of Dolphin Stadium and hosting this major event helps cement Redcliffe and the Moreton Bay region as a key sporting and tourism destination,” Mrs D’Ath said.
“We can expect Redcliffe to catch footy fever with the influx of visitors boosting tourism and business on the peninsula.”
Dolphins Chairman Bob Jones said Dolphin Stadium was ready to host the Championship.
“With the construction of Dolphin Stadium we now have some of the best facilities in South East Queensland for both players and spectators,” Mr Jones said.
“We can’t wait to welcome players from around the world to the Dolphins and show off our region and our club.
“We are expecting a lot of support from our community and this is going to be a great event for everyone including our 800-plus Junior Dolphins to come along and watch.”