Rugby's World Cup to be postponed after unexpected withdrawals

The Rugby League World Cup was set to take place in England this year, but after Australia and New Zealand withdrew, it has been postponed until 2022.

Rugby League World Cup postponed after Australia, New Zealand withdraw

Rugby League World Cup organisers have confirmed the tournament that was scheduled for this year will now take place in 2022.

The event was set to be contested across October and November in England but was cast into doubt when Australia and New Zealand – two of the sport's three biggest nations – pulled out last month.

A "premature" withdrawal

The withdrawal was a decision which was criticised as "premature" by a group representing Australian rugby league players. 

2017 Australian team member's celebrate their victory in the Rugby League World Cup men's final match between Australia and England in Brisbane.

Both Australia and New Zealand still have strict rules for travel and quarantining due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Without two of the star attractions, organisers have decided to push the tournament back to next year.

Upset organizers with teams' decision

"Today is a challenging moment for everyone involved in rugby league, but most importantly the players and fans of the competing nations," read a statement from World Cup organisers.

"We have always prioritised player voice and player choice. 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."