Newcastle will become the international home of touch football in Australia, with the sport's Trans-Tasman series set to be held in the city in 2020 and 2022.
The major announcement on Saturday is part of a partnership between the Federal Government, Newcastle City Council, NRL Touch and the nib Newcastle Knights and will see three separate events hosted in Newcastle.
In a traditional rival, Australia and New Zealand will go head-to-head across the three Opens – men's, women's and mixed divisions in 2020 and again in 2022.
In an added coup, the 2020 Youth Trans-Tasman event will also be held in Newcastle, featuring the best under 18 and under 20s athletes across boys, girls and mixed divisions.
Outside of the Touch World Cup, the Trans-Tasman series is considered the pinnacle of international touch football and will attract over 3,000 visitors to the region.
Touch Football Australia (TFA) CEO Steve Mitchell said the Trans-Tasman series will be a fantastic opportunity to showcase elite touch football to the community and provide economic benefits and international exposure to the region.
"This will be the first visit to Newcastle for many participants and their families, which will no doubt leave a lasting impression on them, as will the images of the region being beamed around the world as part of the livestream coverage," said Mitchell.
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"It will also provide the local community the chance to witness the skill of elite touch footballers and catch a glimpse of the next Kalyn Ponga or Shaun Johnson, both of whom have previously represented their country at this very event."
Knights CEO Philip Gardner said it will be a fantastic event for all Knights fans to enjoy and get behind.
"The Knights are proud to be part of these events and urge all Novocastrians to show their support, as Newcastle continues to show that it is one of the leading sporting hubs of Australia," said Gardner.
"It has been shown through players such as Kalyn Ponga and Aidan Guerra, that touch football can be a great pathway to rugby league as it requires similar skills in agility, speed and passing.
"The event will not only promote Newcastle internationally, with a live stream broadcast estimated to reach 3.1 million but will highlight the home of the Knights to an international audience, which will be a great boost to the town and the Club."
The announcement comes on the back of the Knights being one of six foundation clubs in the inaugural NRL Touch Premiership and a recent strategic participation MOU implemented between the Knights and five local touch football competitions to grow the game of Rugby League more broadly in the region.