Web Release – Thursday 30th June

Social research company Substance will be joining the Rugby League World Cup 2021 and The Sports Consultancy in launching a new report:

Blazing a Trail: The Rugby League World Cup 2021, making a positive social impact – the story so far.

The independent report researched and written by Substance and The Sports Consultancy will be launched by the Secretary of State for Digital Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Nadine Dorries and Jon Dutton, Chief Executive of the Rugby League World Cup 2021. The launch takes place at leading community rugby league club, Portico Vine ALRFC, in St Helens on Thursday 30th June 2022.

Substance and The Sports Consultancy have been evaluating the impact of the RLWC2021 Social Impact Programme since 2019 which has delivered over £25m of work on facilities, volunteering, mental health and education programmes and international development work.




The Rugby League World Cup 2021

The Rugby League World Cup 2021 was postponed from last year due to the pandemic to this October and November. Its Social Impact Programme has been central to the tournament’s objectives and has worked with funders Sport England and UK Sport and partners including Movember and Community Integrated Care.


Substance evaluation

Substance has been responsible for evaluating the impact of:

  • The Volunteer Programme, which includes event, community and inclusive volunteer strands and has engaged over 1,500 volunteers.
  • The Mental Fitness Programme which has worked with Movember and Rugby League Cares to deliver mental fitness and resilience workshops to thousands of young athletes and hundreds of coaches.
  • The Education programme has created online rugby league themed resources for schools and a programme on young people’s rights with Unicef.

The report is a ‘story so far’ account of what has been delivered to date and the impact it has made. Evaluation is ongoing and a Final Report will be issued after the tournament in spring 2023.


Jon Dutton, RLWC2021 Chief Executive said:

‘From its very inception, our Social Impact Programme has been a core focus, delivering more than £25.8 million of positive change in communities across the North of England. Our trailblazing work has been central to the tournament’s purpose and that change is happening right now, with the vast majority of the funding having been utilised before the tournament has even begun.’


Adam Brown, Head of Research at Substance said:

‘We have been delighted to have been involved in evaluating this programme. The story so far shows how much has been achieved despite some major obstacles in the last two years. We are looking forward to researching the programmes as they develop and reporting on the impact they make after the tournament.’


Kirsten Sibbit-Johnston, Associate Director of Consulting at The Sports Consultancy, commented:

“We are honoured to be one of RLWC2021’s evaluation partners for its Social Impact Programme. It is exciting to see the power that sport can have in driving meaningful social change and the impact that the Programme has already had in target communities as a result of RLWC2021’s upfront investment and planning. RLWC2021 is reshaping the definition of legacy, generating impact well in advance of the tournament’s inevitable boost.”


For further information on this impact report, or to learn more about what Substance does and how we can help your organisation, please contact info@substance.net.

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