The Rugby League World Cup is well on its way after draws were held and it is going to be a landmark tournament in both the men’s and women’s competitions, as next year’s tournament takes on a new format.
This was going to be the first time women’s rugby league was making such a buzz with the 2021 world cup and then the coronavirus came along, almost stealing the thunder but not anymore. Instead, the break and the backdrop of a pandemic has given the world a more global impact and appeal, and will be one of the highlights in both rugby and all of professional sports in general. The draw for the world Cup is set and the bookmakers are already whetting appetites with irresistible odds for all the big games and teams, with some sites even throwing in free slots to keep you going while you wait the D-day.
Australia is the team to watch out for, while England, New Zealand and Tonga are potent threats and not to be taken lightly.
This year’s tournament will see the shift to 16 teams, as the best in rugby league battle it out over 5 weeks for the right to be called World champions. Starting on the 23rd of October 2021, the teams will play all over England, kicking off in St. James’ Park, and ending on the famous grounds of Old Trafford in Manchester.
The hostilities will kick off with hosts England, playing Samoa. Through 31 games, hakas, Sipi Taus, national anthems, and the spirit of competition will electrify fans across the world for a champion to emerge. This year’s tournament has four groups of 4 nations to accommodate all sixteen teams. Group A holds England, France, Samoa, and Greece, while group B has Australia, Fiji, Scotland, and Italy. The defending champions and most titled team, Australia, will have a relatively fairer time in the group stages but cannot undermine the energy of the Italians and Scots. New Zealand, Lebanon, Jamaica, and Ireland make up the third group, and a pack of teams that will be looking to spring an outsider surprise on whoever they face in the quarter finals. The final group is comprised of Tonga, Cook Islands, Papua New Guinea, and Wales.
Given the backdrop of the coronavirus and the potential good news of a vaccine, there is a possibility that by the time the tournament rolls around, fans will be allowed to share in the stadium excitement and energy once again, something that the countries, organisers, and fans will be looking forward to with high hopes for rugby league.