THE Rugby League World Cup 2013 fixture list has been announced and Italy and Tonga will play at the Shay.
The Group C match takes place at a date to be announced in November next year.
Calderdale Council, which has spent more than £5 million developing the ground, beat off stiff competition to bring a game to Halifax.
Fourteen teams will compete at venues across England, Wales, France and Ireland and will be watched by a global TV audience.
The authority is now working to secure a sell-out 10,000 crowd - possibly more but that depends on ground safety certificates being granted - and will be involving the whole community in the build-up.
Council development manager David Brook said exciting plans include:
Junior World Cup tag rugby; an education package linked to the world cup and curriculum; a marketing strategy including developing a one-off App for the game; dressing the town with banners; promoting tourism and targeting Italian restaurants and businesses generally to become involved.
“We want to make this the best game in the world cup,” said Mr Brook.
Ticket prices are being kept low, probably between £8 and £10, and the matchday entertainment will include marching bands.
Attending the announcement of matches at the Shay, pupils of Brooksbank School, Elland, performed a traditional Tonga haka war cry.
They have been learning about different cultures as part of the school’s centenary year.
Also present was Bradford Bulls front row forward Manase Manuokafoa, an Australian who represented Tonga in the 2008 world cup in Australia.
He is looking forward to playing for Tonga at the Shay.
“It’s a lovely statium and I can’t wait and I hope the community comes together for the world cup,” he said.
“There will be a lot of passion from both teams.”
Mario Marcinczak, an amateur hooker with West Bowling, has been involved with the Italian squad since it was formed in 2008.
The tournament will project him onto the big stage in front of thousands. “It will be an amazing experience playing in front of a full house at the Shay,” he said.