A host to international sport
Leeds is a city steeped in sporting heritage, with an unrivalled passion and a growing reputation for hosting international sporting events.
AJ Bell World Triathlon in Roundhay Park. Credit: Getty Images
Clubs with an international draw
The city is home to some of the biggest and oldest clubs in the UK. Formed in 1885, Yorkshire County Cricket has been playing in Leeds for over 100 years and is one of the most decorated cricket clubs in England, winning the county championship a record 32 times. Many international greats have graced Headingley’s hollowed turf, but perhaps none more famous than one of cricket’s greatest ever players, India’s Sachin Tendulkar, who became the first ever overseas-born player to represent the county.
Emerald Headingley stadium is also home to Leeds Rhinos who have enjoyed enormous success both nationally and internationally, winning rugby league's World Club Challenge three times in the last 10 years.
It’s impossible to talk about sport in Leeds without mentioning Leeds United. Now in the Premier League, and with the charismatic Marcelo Bielsa at the helm, Leeds United continues to draw support and interest from all corners of the globe.
Host to world-class international sport
From that epic Ben Stokes century against Australia in the Ashes, to the opening stage of the Tour de France, Leeds has experienced some unforgettable international sporting moments and we have many more to come.
After a year’s absence, the AJ Bell World Triathlon is set to return in June 2021 bringing the world’s best triathletes back to Roundhay Park for another year.
The Rugby League World Cup is also just around the corner with the first game in Leeds kicking off on 24 October 2021, as Jamaica take on Ireland. What’s more, Leeds will act as the training base for the men’s squads from Jamaica and Ireland, and the women’s squads from England, Papua New Guinea, Brazil and Canada.
World-class sporting facilities
Leeds boasts some of the best sporting facilities in the country thanks to the John Charles Centre for Sport and facilities at the University of Leeds and Leeds Beckett University. The high quality sporting facilities in the city were a key factor in the Chinese Olympic Committee’s decision to use Leeds as their pre-Olympic training camp for the London 2012 Olympics.
Leeds Beckett University’s international reputation for sporting excellence is going from strength-to-strength, with the university’s Carnegie School of Sport recently ranked as one of the top 100 sports science schools in the world. The university also has a long standing partnership with European football governing body, UEFA and has recently launched the Carnegie International Soccer Academy in partnership with Leeds United.
For more info on what makes Leeds and international city of sport check-out some of the case studies below.
Leeds has a long love affair with cycling dating back to the early 1990s when the city regularly hosted the Leeds International Classic, a major race on the cycling calendar which saw some of the sport’s top riders, including Lance Armstrong, taking part.
But it was 2014 that will live long in the memory, as Leeds and Yorkshire welcomed the world’s biggest cycling race, the Tour de France, to the city, highlighting Leeds’ ambition to host the world’s biggest sporting events.
The legacy of the tour saw the creation of the Tour de Yorkshire in 2014, which sees the Queen stage ending in Leeds. Previous winners have included some of the biggest names in cycling including, Thomas Voeckler and Greg Van Avermaet.
In 2019 Leeds hosted the pinnacle of cycling as the UCI World Championship’s famous rainbow stripes rolled into the city for the start of the elite men’s race – another unforgettable moment for cycling and sports fans in Leeds.
International cricket in Leeds has a long and prestigious history with the first international match taking place in 1899 as England took on Australia in the Ashes at Headingley.
More than 120 years later and Headingley has gone on to host over 100 international cricket matches and some unforgettable moments. The great Australian batsman, Sir Don Bradman scored his highest test innings at Headingley, scoring 330 not out in 1930. In 2019 Leeds saw one of England's greatest ever victories as Ben Stokes and Jack Leach defied the odds to steer England to victory from the brink of defeat in the Ashes. The same year also saw World Cup fever arrive in Leeds, with the city hosting 4 matches during the Cricket World Cup.
After a year’s absence, international cricket is set to return to Leeds and Headingley in 2021 with England due to host India in August.