Rugby Football League’s Chief Laments Australia And New Zealand’s Withdrawal

"The organizers have done everything possible to provide both nations with strong evidence of the robust protocols and procedures to keep players safe,"

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Rugby Football League's Chief Laments Australia And New Zealand's Withdrawal - SportRazzi
Rugby Football League's Chief Laments Australia And New Zealand's Withdrawal / Photo credit: Sky

In response to the decision by Australia and New Zealand to withdraw from the Rugby competition, RFL chairman Johnson questioned why teams from Australia and New Zealand continue to travel to compete in other sports.

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He also believes that moving the event to 2022 would cause additional complications because it would conflict with other major sporting events that year.

“I think the British public would want to know why they have made that decision now about a tournament in October when they have athletes currently in Tokyo participating in the Olympics, when their rugby union team is planning to come to Wales in October and when the New Zealand cricket team have been here already to participate,” he said.

“So there is something that the Rugby League authorities believe is insurmountable where other sports have no problem.

“The Rugby League World Cup organizers have made considerable commitments at great expense, as has the British government, to do what they can to guarantee the safety of the athletes when they are here and when they return and travel between. I’m afraid the rugby league authorities in Australia and New Zealand have just not been prepared to accept those assurances.

“Of course it’s possible to postpone but by the time rugby league is playing next year we will be competing with the Commonwealth Games and the Fifa World Cup in Qatar.

“October and November 2021 is perfect because all restrictions have been lifted here in the UK and with fans returning to sporting events I believe that there will be full attendance.

“We’ve sold tickets, how do we explain to our fans that they will not see the Australia rugby league team playing in Wales in October?”

An official statement from the tournament organizers read, “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. A further statement will be made in due course.”

In a statement released on Thursday afternoon, the Super League said leaving tournament organizers with a “matter of minutes” to prepare for their withdrawal was “astonishing”.

“The organizers have done everything possible to provide both nations with strong evidence of the robust protocols and procedures to keep players safe,” said Super League chairman Ken Davy.

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“It is quite astounding that athletes from Australia and New Zealand are about to compete in the Olympics, in addition to the Australian and New Zealand rugby union teams being in the UK this autumn, yet their rugby league counterparts have decided to withdraw.”

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