RLWC organisers defer call on 2021 tournament's status

Source: 1 NEWS

A final decision on whether the 2021 Rugby League World Cup will go ahead as planned later this year has been deferred as concerns grow in both Australia and New Zealand.

Andrew Fifita of Tonga fends Sam Burgess of England during their 2017 Rugby League World Cup semi-final at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland, New Zealand. 25 November 2017 © Copyright Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung / www.photosport.nz

It’s understood officials were going to make an announcement on the status of the tournament this week to relieve some pressure coming from outside parties but talks are still ongoing in a bid to salvage the tournament.

The biggest obstacle is that Australia and New Zealand – two of the powerhouses of the tournament - have yet to commit to the event over lingering concerns for the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on travel from the southern hemisphere.

Adding to those worries is the concern of NRL clubs, who are particularly focused on the need for their players to go into quarantine on their return to Australia after the men’s tournament.

Despite the concerns, organisers said in a statement today progress has been made and they will take their time before making a final call on the October-November tournament in England.

"Our primary focus remains to deliver the Rugby League World Cup this year, as planned, and constructive progress has been made this week," the statement said.

"We are realistic about the complex challenges we are facing in these unprecedented times, including the international travel arrangements and quarantining of athletes and staff from the southern hemisphere.

"In the interests of delivering clarity and certainty to everyone involved in staging the tournament, a final decision will be made as soon as possible.

"However, we have made it clear that our decision making will not be dictated by deadlines if further consideration is required."

One option being considered is postponing it by 12 months but that will also involve a host of logistical problems with the men’s, women’s and wheelchair tournaments all being staged together.