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Rugby League World Cup Postponed Until 2022

T
he 2021 Rugby League World Cup (RLWC), which was set to be played in England, has been postponed until 2022.

The news comes after the withdrawal of Australia and New Zealand, due to player welfare and safety concerns.

Initially, the organisers planned to go ahead with the tournament, however the final decision was made after all 16 NRL clubs released a joint statement last week calling for the World Cup to be postponed due to the current state of COVID-19.

A RLWC statement said: “Rugby League World Cup 2021 (RLWC2021) and the UK government have today announced their intention to stage the flagship event in the international rugby league calendar in 2022.”

“The extremely difficult decision was taken by the RLWC2021 board, which includes representation from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and the International Rugby League board.

“This follows extensive and urgent consultation conducted by RLWC2021 chief executive officer Jon Dutton and his team, which engaged players, competing nations, the Rugby League Players Association, UK government, hosts, commercial and broadcast partners,” the organisation said.

Tournament chief executive, Jon Dutton, said: “Ultimately, time and competing priorities from others forced us to make the most difficult decision in our six-year history.”

UK Sports Minister, Nigel Huddleston, said: “Despite working tirelessly to explore solutions that would allow us to go ahead as planned, circumstances beyond our control have meant that postponing the Rugby League World Cup until next year is the strongest option for staging a successful tournament.”

The tournament was due to start in Newcastle on 23 October, with Dutton insisting the vast majority of players still wanted to compete.

“We have always prioritised player voice and player choice,” Dutton said

“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% 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,” he said.