Sheffielders are being asked to get behind the city's bid for the Rugby League World Cup in 2021, which could see the world's most diverse rugby league tournament ever held brought to Bramall Lane and other venues across Sheffield.
The Rugby League World Cup is being held in England in 2021 and following two stages of bidding Sheffield has been shortlisted to the final 24 cities and towns that could be selected to host the global event in three years' time.
To kick off Sheffield's "Back the Bid" campaign, more than 30,000 Blades and Owls supporters will be encouraged to get behind the bid at tomorrow's derby match, the official campaign launch event, by showing the Rugby Football League (RFL) just how much it would mean to bring this international sporting event to the city.
On the night England and Leeds Rhinos Wheelchair Rugby League star, James Simpson will be joining footie fans at Bramall Lane and will address the crowd at half time to officially celebrate Sheffield's bid.
The Leeds Rhino's Captain, James, began playing the sport just a few years ago after recovering from life-threatening injuries inflicted during deployment in Afghanistan in 2009. At the end of his long road to recovery he discovered Wheelchair Rugby League in 2013. Just five years later, after playing professionally for his local and national team, his hard work, determination and passion saw him announced as the first official ambassador of the Rugby League World Cup 2021.
For the first time the world men's, women's and wheelchair Rugby League games will be held at the same in time in the same country, and unique in its offer, Sheffield has bid for a piece of the action in all three, plus team training camps and accommodation.
Councillor Mary Lea, Cabinet Member for Culture Parks and Leisure at Sheffield City Council, said: "I believe that Sheffield is the perfect city to host the Rugby League World Cup in 2021. Sport is massively associated with Sheffield, not only for the sporting stars we've produced but for our world class facilities and the high profile events we deliver every year.
"Like the Rugby League games themselves, we're proud that Sheffield is diverse and inclusive and I'm sure this competition will inspire a whole new generation of rugby fans and players regardless of age, gender or physical ability.
"I'm thrilled to welcome James to Sheffield on Friday and I hope the whole city will get behind our bid. The tournament will be watched worldwide by an estimated 150 million people across 115 countries and we must make the most of this exciting opportunity to bring the very best of Rugby League to Sheffield and expose our city the world."
Sheffield's bid was made by Sheffield City Council in partnership with Sheffield United Football Club, The Sheffield Eagles, Sheffield International Venues, Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, Scarborough Properties and Sheffield Hallam University. If successful, men's games will be played at Bramall Lane, women's games at Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park and wheelchair games at The English Institute of Sport.
Dave McCarthy, Operations Director at SUFC, said: "We are honoured that our stadium has been chosen for RLWC 2021, should Sheffield be selected as one of the host cities and we're delighted to launch the 'Back the Bid' campaign here on Friday, especially with it being at such a high profile game as the local derby.
"The city offers so much for visitors and having the likes of New Zealand or Australia grace the Bramall Lane turf in 2021 would be amazing, not only for the football club, but for the people of Sheffield and indeed the region.
"I hope the general public will 'Back the Bid' to show the RFL how serious we are in staging World Cup games in three years' time."
Also taking to the pitch on Friday, youngsters from two local primary schools, Shooters Grove from Stannington and Beck Primary of Shiregreen, will put on a half-time display of tag rugby demonstrating the support for Rugby League already rooted across Sheffield.
More than 45 towns and cities entered the bidding process, but this has been narrowed down to 24 and it is expected that between 12-14 of these locations will be chosen to take part when England welcomes the world's Rugby League elite in December 2021.
The RFL is expected to announce the winning host cities in January 2019.
Until the decision is announced people can join in Sheffield's 'Back the Bid' campaign by sharing their enthusiasm on social media using #backthebid and #RLWC2021Sheffield