England have won the right to stage the 2021 World Cup, the Rugby League International Federation has announced.
The Rugby Football League got the nod ahead of the United States, largely on the back of playing numbers and heavy Government backing.
RLIF chief executive David Collier said: “England staged an outstanding World Cup in 2013 and have clearly outlined their vision for the 2021 World Cup as a world-class event eclipsing the attendances, reach and legacy of 2013.
“The bid details that the Rugby League World Cup will be the highlight of the international sporting calendar in England that year and RLIF looks forward to a great tournament.”
The RLIF has recommended that the United States be awarded the 2025 World Cup, along with a separate international tournament to be staged in the period between 2021 and 2025.
The bid was submitted on behalf of both the USA and Canada by Australian businessman Jason Moore, who runs the Sydney-based sports marketing and event management company Moore Sports International (MSI).
Moore had pledged to hand over £10million at the end of the first tournament to be held outside the game’s traditional areas and help lay down firm roots for the game in north America, which will host professional rugby league from next May when Toronto play in the Kingstone Press League 1 competition.
RFL chief executive Nigel Wood, who is chairman of the RLIF, and chairman Brian Barwick, a fellow RLIF board member, did not take part in the decision-making process.
Officials say bids were assessed against seven criteria and England scored heavily in its supporter base and government support, both in terms of the £25million government backing and its legacy, as well as in areas such as visas, security, international development and promotion.
Collier added: “The MSI USA/Canada bid provided the RLIF with an unprecedented opportunity to take rugby league’s pinnacle event, the World Cup, to the commercially lucrative and passionate sports audience of north America.
“As outlined in the bid presentation, significant opportunities with regards to rugby league development at both the elite level and even more extensively at the junior levels of the game, gave MSI USA/Canada’s bid extremely compelling qualities.
“The bid process was highly competitive and the board was very impressed by the MSI USA/Canada bid which was of the highest quality.
“The RLIF sees a great future for the sport in North America and has recommended that discussions with MSI are expedited to bring professional rugby league to North America as well as future international tournaments.
“Those discussions are being progressed with MSI USA/Canada and a report will be presented to Congress which will be held on 19 November this year.”