England to face Fiji in World Cup warm-up at Crown Oil Arena

Date published: 20 April 2021

Rochdale Hornets will host a friendly between England and Fiji at the Crown Oil Arena in October as part of its 150th anniversary celebrations.

The club was officially formed on 20 April 1871, and played its first ever game on 7 October of the same year. 

Shaun Wane’s England side will face Fiji on Friday 15 October 2021, just eight days prior to the start of the Rugby League World Cup.

Rochdale Hornets enjoys a rich and fantastic history with Fiji, the town hosting the second largest Fijian population in the UK outside of London.


Voate Drui, Orisi Dawai, Joe Levula and Liatia Ravouvou being interviewed at Hornets in 1963
Voate Drui, Orisi Dawai, Joe Levula and Liatia Ravouvou being interviewed at Hornets in 1963


Rochdale's relationship with the Pacific nation stretches back more than 50 years after the arrival of four Fijian rugby players in the early 1960s; Orisi Dawai and Josefa Levula becoming the first of their countrymen to play in England and creating a Rochdale legacy.

Voate Drui and Liatia Ravouvou soon followed in the early 60s, and the strong connection between the club and Fiji lives on, which has also seen Mike Ratu senior, his son Emon - and his grandson Mike junior - all represent the Hornets - while Joe Taira is a current squad member. 

The Crown Oil Arena last hosted an international fixture at the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, which saw Fiji defeat Ireland 32-14 in front of a sell-out crowd, while it will be the first time England has featured in a sporting event in the town since 1930.


Rugby League World Cup<br /> Fiji v Ireland
Fiji played Ireland at the Crown Oil Arena in the Rugby League World Cup 2013


England Head Coach Shaun Wane said: “This fixture will be a vital part of our preparations for the World Cup, and I’d like to thank Rochdale Hornets and the Fiji National Rugby League for making this happen. The Bati are a very talented side individually and collectively, and I wish them well at RLWC2021.” 

Rochdale Hornets chief executive Steve Kerr added: “We're delighted to announce our flagship event as part of our 150th anniversary celebrations. To welcome Fiji back to Rochdale and continue our cultural links with the island nation is an absolute privilege and honour. 

“Supporting Shaun Wane and his England team in their preparations ahead of the 2021 World Cup is simply incredible and the icing on the cake. I’d like to personally thank Ralph Rimmer and the RFL, Don Natabe (Fijian CEO), the World Cup team and the International Rugby League for helping to make this event possible. We now look forward to showcasing the game under the lights on a Friday night at a sell-out Crown Oil Arena."

Due to the current circumstances, there are just 2,000 tickets available and tickets are on sale now, with adult tickets ranging from £15 to £30 www.hornetsrugbyleague.co.uk/tickets-new/tickets

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