Following the draw for the final European qualifying groups for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup – undertaken by St Helens’ international stars Tommy Makinson, Regan Grace and Theo Fages – the dates have been confirmed for next year’s fixtures.
In a quirk of fate, the nations in group one – Italy, Ireland and Spain, have all faced each other before at senior level, whilst those in group two – Greece or Norway, Russia and Scotland have never previously met.
“We played Ireland in the qualifiers for the 2017 World Cup and Italy in a friendly in 2015 so we know both teams very well,” said Spain head coach Darren Fisher. “This is a very tough group, however, we will prepare as best as we can and ensure we are up for this challenge. Everyone love games with high reward and there is nothing bigger than trying to qualify for a World Cup.”
The top two nations in each group will make the full tournament in England.
The match to determine who joins Scotland and Russia in group two, the final of European Championship C between Greece and Norway, will take place on neutral territory, in London, on 18 May 2018, with plans to make it part of a double-header event in the capital.
RLEF general manager Chris Thair, who hosted the live draw, commented: “All the nations who are still in contention have already come through tough qualifying games in 2018, and there is no doubt the excitement, pressure and on-field performances will need to be at an all-time high next year. Further details of times and venues will be revealed early in 2019. but we are set for a thrilling three weeks.”
FINAL EUROPEAN QUALIFYING TOURNAMENT
26-27 October, 2019
Spain v Ireland
Scotland v Russia
2-3 November, 2019
Italy v Spain
Greece or Norway v Scotland
9-10 November, 2019
Ireland v Italy
Russia v Greece or Norway