Rugby League World Cup confirmed for 2022 following tournament’s POSTPONMENT after champions Australia and New Zealand pulled out from playing in UK over Covid fears… but there is no specific date for rescheduled showpiece
- The Rugby League World Cup was postponed after Australia & New Zealand withdrew
- The World Cup was due to take place in the United Kingdom this October
- Southern hemisphere nations have withdrawn over Covid-19 safety concerns
- Despite weeks of trying to assure two countries, tournament will not go ahead
The Rugby League World Cup will be delayed until sometime next year after tournament organisers and the UK government decided to postpone the sport’s flagship event after Australia and New Zealand’s withdrawals.
The two southern hemisphere giants had pulled out of the Rugby League World Cup amid Covid fears within England, where it was due to be held across October and November later this year.
No specific date has yet been identified for when the rescheduled event will be held for what organisers described as a ‘difficult decision’.
An official statement has confirmed that the Rugby League World Cup will now be held in 2022
‘Today is a challenging moment for everyone involved in Rugby League, but most importantly the players and fans of the competing nations,’ said Jon Dutton, RLWC2021 Chief Executive Officer.
‘Ultimately, time and competing priorities from others forced us to make the most difficult decision in our six-year history. However, we and the sport of Rugby League are resilient, and next year we will deliver our vision of the biggest and best Rugby League World Cup ever.
‘We have always prioritised player voice and player choice. We have established a player working group, met with senior players and in the last few days commissioned a player survey to domestic players in Australia and New Zealand that showed more than 85 per cent wanted to compete at RLWC2021 this year.
‘However, following the disappointing decision of the ARLC and NZRL to withdraw, and the subsequent impact on player availability for other competing nations, it is apparent that delivering the tournament this year would not be feasible.
‘The wellbeing of all those involved in the tournament, particularly players and team officials, has been our priority. I would like to thank the RLWC2021 Board and my team for the relentless hard work and extraordinary measures that had been undertaken to create a safe and secure environment in line with other major sports events that have been successfully hosted in the UK this year.
‘I would also like to thank all our committed partners as well as the Rugby League community at large who have been so supportive of our trailblazing event. We appreciate the continued and unequivocal support of the UK Government, as well as the understanding of our competing nations.’
The Rugby League World cup has been postponed after Australia and New Zealand withdrew
Sportsmail revealed a week ago that there was a 50-50 chance of the World Cup going ahead as organisers scrambled frantically to address Australia and New Zealand’s concerns and implore them to attend the competition.
Confirmation of the postponement comes just days after all 16 National Rugby League clubs backed Australia and New Zealand’s decision not to travel for the tournament.
This was despite the Rugby League World Cup organisers pledging to spend £5million on the safety of Australia-based players and staff at the tournament, including chartering flights to and from the UK for up to 400 people.
There were also proposals for an indigenous all-star team to replace Australia and a Maori side to take New Zealand’s place at the World Cup, but these have fallen flat.
The extraordinary developments have been punctured by bitter feuding between the organisers and the southern hemisphere nations.
Rugby League World Cup chief executive Jon Dutton (left) paraded the trophy at Downing Street with Prime Minister Boris Johnson before the Australian and New Zealand withdrawals
Simon Johnson, chairman of the Rugby Football League, expressed his anger at the decision taken by Australia and New Zealand to withdraw when it was first announced on July 22.
‘This selfish, parochial and cowardly decision is one that need not have been taken because the Rugby League World Cup organisers have bent over backwards to offer every assurance to the Australians and Kiwis,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
At the time, New Zealand Rugby League chief executive Greg Peters said: ‘The tournament organisers have moved heaven and earth to make this work, so it is not an easy decision, but the Covid-19 situation in the UK shows no sign of improving, and it’s simply too unsafe to send teams and staff over.’