Rugby League World Cup organisers insist the tournament in England this October will go ahead as planned despite fears Australia will send a RESERVE team because of the country’s strict Covid quarantine rules impacting on new NRL season
- Rugby League World Cup organisers are confident the tournament in England this autumn will go ahead as planned
- Reigning champions Australia have signed a participation agreement but pushback from NRL clubs means they could yet send a weakened team
- All players and staff face the prospect of a 14-day quarantine upon their return to Australia, impacting on NRL pre-season
- Organisers have already agreed to pay for charter flights for the southern hemisphere teams and will cover quarantine costs
- 16-team men’s World Cup gets underway when England play Samoa at St James’ Park in Newcastle on October 23 with Old Trafford final on November 27
Organisers of the 2021 Rugby League World Cup are confident the tournament will go ahead as planned despite fears over Australia’s participation.
As reported by Sportsmail on Wednesday, the reigning champions could yet undermine the credibility of the tournament, to be staged in England, by sending a reserve team.
There is resistance from National Rugby League (NRL) clubs in Australia, who are calling for the competition to be postponed until next year because Covid-19 quarantine rules mean players return to their clubs two weeks before trial games begin for the 2022 season.
Rugby League World Cup organisers are confident the tournament in England this autumn will go ahead as planned despite fears over Australia’s participation
With Australia’s borders currently closed, anyone returning to the country from overseas has to spend 14 days in government-managed quarantine.
Players must take a mandatory six-week rest break after quarantine, impacting on the new campaign by essentially wiping out pre-season.
The 16-team men’s World Cup gets underway on October 23 with the final at Old Trafford in Manchester on November 27.
The women’s and wheelchair World Cups will run in tandem and all 61 matches will be shown live by the BBC.
But tournament chief executive Jon Dutton said: ‘We are delighted to be able to provide clarity and certainty to fans, players, partners, media and those that have supported our journey over the past few years.
Reigning champions Australia (pictured) have agreed to participate in the tournament but they could yet send a weakened team following pushback from NRL clubs
‘We recognise there are still many challenges ahead but we will work relentlessly and will take the most extraordinary measures with the support of all involved to stage the tournament in 100 days’ time.’
The participation of Australia and New Zealand in the tournament moved a step closer this week when organisers agreed to pay for private charter flights for around 400 players and staff coming from the southern hemisphere.
They also agreed to pay the costs of the 14-day quarantine on their return but that hasn’t assuaged the concerns of some NRL clubs.
The Australian Rugby League have signed a Participation Agreement committing to taking part in the tournament, but it does not stipulate that they must send their strongest team.
Australia beat England 6-0 in the 2017 World Cup final in Brisbane to continue their dominance
The prospect of Australian fielding a team comprised entirely of players based in England has even been discussed, which would severely dent the integrity of the competition.
The opening game of the World Cup will see England take on Samoa at St James’ Park in Newcastle on October 23.