The Rugby League European Championship is back with new eight-team format! Discover the fixtures, dates, and teams most likely to win the title.
The biggest international rugby competition is coming to France in 2025. Before that though, to know which of the teams are going to be competing in this prestigious event, they have to go through a round of qualifications. To know which teams are going to be vying for the title, you should absolutely not miss the 2023 Rugby League European Championship.
This will be the 35th edition of the Rugby League European Championship. This tournament, formerly known as the European Cup and the European Cup of Nations, was first held in 1935. It was originally played yearly, except for the World War Two years. France, England and Wales were the only three teams that participated in the tournament until 1949 when an ‘Other Nationalities’ team was added. This team was made up of players that were not French, English, or Welsh.
In 1955, there was no Welsh team, although Welsh players were part of the Other Nationalities team. After that, the tournament was not played again until 1969. It was revived again in 1975 with the same three-team format: Wales, England, and France competing against each other.
The tournament was cancelled again in 1981 but was revived again under the same three-team format in 1996. 2003 saw the tournament take on a new format, with Scotland, Ireland, and Russia joining. This new structure had two groups of three teams playing against each other, with the winner of each group making its way to the final.
In 2005, England did not participate in the tournament. The 2010 and 2014 tournaments were used as qualifiers for the Four Nations (also known as the Ladbrokes Four Nations in 2016, for sponsorship purposes).
As of 2018, the competition was used as part of the qualification process for the Rugby World Cup. In July 2020, because of covid-19, the 2020 Rugby League European Championship competition was cancelled and pushed to 2022. This competition was set to feature six teams, with Italy and Spain joining the six teams that competed in 2018 (France, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales).
This edition of the Rugby League European Championship will exceptionally feature eight teams, with England playing for the first time since the England Knights won the title in 2012. The teams (except for France and England) will be playing for qualifications for the Rugby League World Cup. England qualified for the Rugby League World Cup by reaching the quarter-finals of the 2021 World Cup.
The eight teams have been split into two groups of four. The two highest-performing teams will join England and France to be qualified for the Rugby League World Cup. The other teams will go into the final 2024 qualifying competition. The other participating teams are Ireland, Serbia, Italy, Spain, Wales, and Scotland.
Serbia is participating in the elite level for the first time, after winning the 2021 European Championship against Russia and Ukraine.
The dates have already been announced.
21st October 2023 – England v Ireland, Scotland v Serbia
28th October 2023 – Scotland v England, Serbia v Ireland
4th November 2023 – Serbia v England, Ireland v Scotland
21st October 2023 – Spain v Wales, France v Italy
28th October 2023 – France v Spain, Italy v Wales
4th November 2023 – Wales v France, Italy v Spain
11th November 2023
While the dates have been announced, fans should not book any flights until these dates and venues are confirmed. For more information on this, keep an eye on the Rugby League European Championship official website.
It is not yet confirmed if England or the England Knights will take part in the tournament. Shaun Wane, the coach’s future remains just as unconfirmed. His contract expired at the end of the last World Cup, where the host nation was beaten by Samoa in the semi-finals.
For the first time ever, there was a draw for the Women’s World Cup qualifying event. It took place in tandem with the men’s European Championship draw. For the 2025 World Cup, there are two European places up for grabs. Greece, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, Serbia, Turkey and Wales will be drawn into two pools of four. England and France are already qualified since they took part in the most recent world cup.
Similar women’s qualification tournaments will be held in the rest of the world. In Asia-Pacific, the participants are Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga. Jamaica, Chile, and the USA are the participants for the Americas. In Africa, Cameroon, Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, Lebanon, and Morocco will be playing against each other for a chance at qualification.
So, who will win the men’s 2023 Rugby League European Championship? If you’re interested in rugby league betting, then let’s get into it!
European championship holders, France, see the competition as a start to a great performance in the 2025 Rugby League World Cup. Laurent Frayssinous, the head coach, looks forward to making full use of this opportunity. “We’ve got to use all the time from now to build up to hosting the World Cup and this championship is an important part,” he said.
“We want to spend more time together, and our group has a good Mediterranean mix with Italy and Spain and a lot of players from the French competition. We faced Wales last year and the way John Kear motivates his players, and on the back of a good World Cup for them, it will be a real test. Hopefully, we can make the final and keep the trophy, there has always been an appetite for international rugby league in France which will also help give profile to the domestic game.”
The 14-time title holder, England, will make its first-ever historic trip to Serbia on November 4. This team has not been part of the tournament since 2012, with a feature and a win from the England Knights. England will expect to top their group in the eight-team tournament and then face France.
The Welsh Dragonhearts, even after losing all three group games at the last World Cup matches, are a force to be reckoned with. John Kear has created a team far greater than many others.
None of the teams has beaten England in this century, except for Italy. So, we are eager to see how this championship will play out!