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Afp

2021 Rugby League World Cup to be staged solely in England

By AFP
media Although the 2013 Rugby League World Cup was hosted by England, France played New Zealand in Avignon, one of two French venues. AFP/File

The 2021 Rugby League World Cup is set to be played solely in England, with 80 percent of games in the 13-a-side code's northern heartlands, organisers said Monday.

Previous World Cups hosted by England's Rugby Football League in 1995, 2000 and 2013 have included fixtures in France, Wales and Ireland but changes to British government funding policy have led officials to steer a new course in 2021.

"I think it's fair to say we won't be going to France," said tournament director Jon Dutton.

"The £25 million ($33 million, 28 million euros) that has come into the tournament is money for England.

"It's a devolved budget. So it's the same with Ireland and Wales. If a really compelling bid comes to the table, we will have a real good look at it but I don't anticipate that will be the case."

Organisers plan on using 14 venues for the 31 men's fixtures, down from 21 in 2013. Dutton added that while London would get a share of fixtures, the majority would take place in the north.

"The sport in 1895 was born in the north and we should be really proud of our heritage so we've got to find the right balance between celebrating that and also getting a cut-through across the rest of England," he said.

"We have had 40 expressions of interest, that is probably now about 30, so we're going to have some really tough decisions to make. I've been blown away by the level of interest."

Officials will break with tradition by avoiding a clash between the holders, Australia, and the hosts, England, as the opening match of the tournament, with the number of teams increased by two to 16 in what will likely be four groups of four.

"It is for the International Federation to decide, but our preference will be for the top four nations, including Tonga, to be the seeded teams," he added.

"I anticipate that we will not start the tournament with England versus Australia, I think they will be in different groups."

 
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