Australia and New Zealand have both announced that they will not be taking part in this year’s Rugby League World Cup, which is set to kick off in October.
Both countries have requested that the Rugby League World Cup be postponed until next year, due to fears over high rates covid in England, where the tournament is set to be held.
The Australian and New Zealand rugby league commissions released a joint statement saying that they would not compete in the tournament due to player safety concerns.
The ARL Commission has today officially withdrawn from the World Cup in October, citing player welfare and safety concerns.https://t.co/qQNdfGGuQ4
— Gallagher Australian Kangaroos (@Kangaroos) July 22, 2021
Australia and New Zealand’s joint statement.
“The decision to withdraw from the RLWC2021 comes after considering the risk of Covid-19 infection in the United Kingdom, the worsening environment in Australia and the time a majority of NRL Telstra Premiership players will spend away from home under strict biosecurity conditions prior to the World Cup,” the statement reads.
“The ARLC and NZRL have resolved, that in the present environment the risks to athletes and officials travelling to the UK to participate in the tournament this year are too great, and it is unable to endorse Australia and New Zealand participating in the RLWC in 2021.”
Rugby League World Cup organisers respond.
The organisers of the Rugby League World Cup have responded to the decision taken by Australia and New Zealand, saying that they will now consider their options moving forward, with a further statement yet to come.
“RLWC2021 note the disappointing statement made by the ARLC and NZRL which may have wide ranging implications for international Rugby League,” the statement reads.
“RLWC2021 were informed at very short notice and will continue discussions with all stakeholders to agree on the best way forward.”
RLWC2021 note the disappointing statement made by the ARLC and NZRL which may have wide ranging implications for international Rugby League. RLWC2021 were informed at very short notice and will continue discussions with all stakeholders to agree on the best way forward. pic.twitter.com/Qa4UcalL6W
— Rugby League World Cup 2021 (@RLWC2021) July 22, 2021
Australia and New Zealand’s withdrawal comes as a hammer blow to the tournament, as they are the only two nations who have qualified for this edition of the World Cup to have won the tournament.
Great Britain have won the World Cup on three occasions, but they have not competed in the tournament since 1992, after it was decided that England, Wales and Scotland would compete individually.
Australia are by far the most successful team in the tournament’s history, having won 11 of the 15 World Cups held to date, while New Zealand have won the tournament on one occasion in 2008.