RLWC2021: Tournament will be 'World Class' following year-long delay organisers insist

Only the dates have changed, World Cup organisers say, after the tournament, scheduled to begin on October 23, was officially postponed until next year.

Thursday, 5th August 2021, 4:45 pm

The Rugby League World Cup 2021 (RLWC2021) board say it would have been impossible to stage an elite competition without Australia and New Zealand, who pulled out last month because of fears over player safety during the pandemic.

Eight matches were due to be played in Leeds, with six teams based in the city.

Fixtures and dates for next year have yet to be confirmed, but chief executive Jon Dutton confirmed the tournament - including men's, women's and wheelchair events - will not clash with the FIFA World Cup, which begins on November 21.

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Tournament chief execuitve Jon Dutton with the World Cup trophies. Picture by Paul Currie/SWpix.com.

The tournament will still be known as World Cup 2021 and plans for a 2025 World Cup in France are unaffected.

Dutton admitted: “We are bitterly disappointed. We have worked tirelessly for almost six years, but it became apparent we couldn’t continue.

“It wouldn’t have been a world class tournament and it would have been irresponsible to carry on, so we look to 2022.

“Collectively as a sport we’ve got to show resilience, overcome the adversity and there has to be a togetherness in the international rugby league community.

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“We have to make sure everyone turns up, brings their best players and we stage a truly world class tournament next year.”

RLWC2021 chairman Chris Brindley described yesterday as “a solemn day for our sport and one nobody wanted”.

He said: “We have always been tournament-ready.

“That said, one of our values has always been to deliver a world-class tournament.

“After much deliberation, it was decided unanimously we are not in a position to host the World Cup this year as planned.

“As such, we’ve agreed we will deliver the tournament in 2022.”

Brindley stressed: “It was a very tough decision.

“A few days ago we were focussing exclusively on delivering an outstanding World Cup.

“Nothing has changed, other than the year we will deliver that.

“We will continue to deliver an outstanding World Cup for all involved.”

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