THE Rugby League World Cup has been POSTPONED until 2022 after teams withdrew from the tournament held in England over Covid fears.
Rugby League World Cup Chief Executive Officer, Jon Dutton said: “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."
Australia and New Zealand recently announced their last-minute withdrawal from the competition due to coronavirus concerns.
And despite only 15 per cent of players wanting to call off tournament after Australia and New Zealand pulled out, the decision was made.
Dutton added: "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 World Cup was scheduled to begin on October 23 with the final on November 27 at Old Trafford in Manchester.
Running concurrently with the tournament was set to be the women's and wheelchair World Cups.
A total of 18 venues, including Coventry, Newcastle, Leeds and London, were booked with 16 teams in the draw.
And England would have faced Greece, France and Samoa in Group A with the Greeks and Jamaica making their tournament debuts.
But the event was plunged into chaos with the withdrawal of World Cup holders Australia and the Kiwis.
Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said: “I am disappointed that we've needed to take the decision to delay the Rugby League World Cup.
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"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.
"In the best interests of the sport and its millions of supporters around the world, I look forward to the Rugby League authorities in all competing nations accommodating a rearranged tournament in 2022, so we can put on the spectacle the fans deserve.”
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