An initial investment of £635,000 has been the catalyst to £25.8m worth of funding
The Rugby League World Cup's social impact programme has resulted in £25.8m of investment in local communities across northern England.
According to an independent report, which looked at the social impact of the tournament, the event has already led to improvements in facilities, local economies and the physical and mental health of populations living in "deprived areas".
The interim report, compiled by The Sports Consultancy and Substance, is based on the research collected so far.
It shows that an initial investment of £635,000 into the tournament's Social Impact Programme has been the catalyst to the near-£26m figure worth of funding from the likes of Sport England, The National Lottery, DCMS and the Arts Council.
A final impact report will be published after the tournament.
The event was originally set to be held in 2021, but had to be moved due to the pandemic and will now take place from 15 October to 19 November 2022.
Rugby League World Cup 2021 Chief Executive, Jon Dutton, said: "The RLWC2021 has always been about much more than delivering 61 matches.
“From its very inception, we set out to be a tournament with a purpose and with the objective of making a real impact in towns and cities with a Social Impact Programme created to deliver more than £25m of positive change.
“We have chosen to deliver this programme with support from the RFL, DCMS, Sport England, UK Sport and The National Lottery, and our trailblazing work has been central to the tournament’s objectives, and that change is happening right now, with the vast majority of the funding having been utilised before the tournament has begun.
"A fundamental obstacle to social mobility is a lack of local opportunities and the ability to have access to new experiences and build self-efficacy.
"Our Social Impact Programme has been about creating those opportunities.
“Opportunities for people to try the sport for the first time. Opportunities for girls and women along with disabled players to get involved in rugby league. Opportunities for our volunteers to try new experiences, grow their skills and play an important role during tournament time. Opportunities for young people to learn about new cultures and improve their mental fitness.
“This interim report tells the story of a programme that has created change and delivered a positive impact, in spite of significant challenges, and delivering our ambition to leave long-lasting outcomes for diverse communities beyond the Rugby League World Cup tournament. It details the incredible power that sport has to make a difference
“I am very proud of all that we have accomplished so far. I am incredibly excited to see what else we can deliver in the next few months and through the tournament itself.”