Australia, Kiwis pull out of rugby showcase


Rugby League World Cup without 2 major teams Image: Rugby League World Cup

The Australian Rugby League Commission (ARL) and the New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) have officially withdrawn from the World Cup in October to be held in the United Kingdom, citing player welfare and safety concerns as the UK witnesses surge in Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus.

The ‘Australian Rugby League Commission’ stated on July 22nd that they have requested the International Rugby League (IRL) to postpone the tournament until 2022 to “minimize risk of players contracting COVID-19 and ensure the best outcome for player wellbeing”.

The Australian Rugby League Commission is the single controlling body and administrator of the Game. It is the official governing body of rugby league football within Australia. It was founded, as the Australian Rugby League ‘Board of Control’ in 1924 jointly by the New South Wales Rugby League and the Queensland Rugby League.

The New Zealand Rugby League is the governing body for the sport of rugby league football in New Zealand. The NZRL was founded on April 25th, 1910 in preparation for a tour of Great Britain that same year. The NZRL administers the New Zealand Kiwis and the New Zealand Kiwi Ferns.

The International Rugby League is the global governing body for the sport of rugby league football. Previously known as the Rugby League Imperial Board, the International Rugby League Board and latterly the Rugby League International Federation, the IRL is responsible for the Laws of the Game, the development, organisation and governance of rugby leagues internationally, and for the sport’s major international tournaments, most notably the Rugby League World Cup.

The Rugby League World Cup is an international rugby league tournament contested by the top men’s national teams. The tournament is administered by the International Rugby League and was first held in France in 1954, which was the first World Cup held for any form of rugby football.

The 2021 Rugby League World Cup will be the 16th staging of the Rugby League World Cup and will be held in England between October 23rd, 2021 and November 27th, 2021.

The ‘Australian Rugby League Commission’ further stated that the ARL and NZRL arrived at the above decision after considering the risk of COVID-19 infection in the United Kingdom, the worsening coronavirus environment in Australia and the time a majority of National Rugby League (NRL) players would have to spend away from home under strict biosecurity conditions prior to the World Cup.

According to a statement issued on Thursday, they “have resolved that in the present environment the risks to athletes and officials traveling 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.”

The ARLC Chairman, Peter V’landys, said player wellbeing and safety must come first – “Not participating in this year’s World Cup is not a decision the Commission has taken lightly, but we must put the best interests of our players and officials first. Protecting them is our absolute priority. In the current environment, the risks to the safety, health and wellbeing of the players and officials traveling from Australia to participate in the tournament this year are insurmountable.”

Added V’landys, “The majority of NRL players are currently living away from home under difficult biosecurity protocols. They would then be required to remain under protocols and away from home for the duration of the tournament before again quarantining on return to Australia. This is too much to ask our players and officials to do. We have again requested the IRL and Rugby League World Cup to consider postponing the event until 2022 to enable all players to participate.”

The National Rugby League is Australia’s top-level domestic men’s rugby league club competition. It contains clubs from the original Sydney club Rugby League competition, which had been running continuously since 1908. A single team from New Zealand also plays in the league.

NZRL CEO Greg Peters said the decision to withdraw was because the safety and wellbeing of staff and players “cannot be guaranteed to our satisfaction”.

Added Peters, “There are stark differences between how the pandemic is being managed in the UK compared to Australasia and recent developments have highlighted how quickly things can change. The tournament organizers have moved heaven and earth to make this work, so it is not an easy decision, but the COVID-19 situation in the UK shows no sign of improving, and it’s simply too unsafe to send teams and staff over. We understand how disappointing this is for fans and those involved, however player and staff safety remains paramount.”

The IRL Chairman, Troy Grant, issued a statement to say he would consult with the World Cup organizing committee and the British Government to gauge their “attitude towards continuing with the RLWC without Australia and New Zealand, if that is a viable option, or consider other options available to us”.

The ‘Australasian Leisure Management’ reported that the RLWC 2021 said the decision would have “wide ranging implications for international rugby league” and that they would “continue discussions with all stakeholders to agree on the best way forward”.

The ‘Australasian Leisure Management’ further reported that the above statement advising International Rugby League (IRL) and Rugby League World Cup (RLWC) organizers of their decision to withdraw from the tournament came on the same day league officials expressed a highly ambitious desire for rugby league to become an Olympic event in time for the Brisbane 2032 Games.

Continue to follow Coliseum for latest updates on venues business news. Coliseum is dedicated towards building the best global community of sports and entertainment venue executives and professionals creating better and more profitable venues.

Become a member of the only Global Sports Venue Alliance and connect with stadiums, arenas and experts from around the world. Apply for membership at and make use of the 365Coliseum Business.

Watch 380 member-exclusive videos with valuable tips for your venue

« Previous News:
» Next News:

Advertisement NEXO - A Yamaha Group Company
Advertisement Coliseum GSVA News Banner - MatSing