The 2021 Rugby League World Cup in England was postponed to 2022 earlier in the year.
Organisers initially vowed to press ahead with the tournament in the autumn without Australia and New Zealand but were forced to acknowledge defeat as all 16 NRL clubs backed the boycott.
Details of the rescheduled tournament have now been revealed, with the men’s, women’s and wheelchair finals all set to take place in Manchester.
Why was the Rugby League World Cup 2021 postponed?
The news had been anticipated since Australia and New Zealand pulled out of the tournament a fortnight ago, citing safety fears amid the coronavirus pandemic.
A Rugby League World Cup statement read: “Rugby League World Cup 2021 (RLWC2021) and the UK Government have today announced their intention to stage the flagship event in the international Rugby League calendar in 2022.
“The extremely difficult decision was taken by the RLWC2021 Board, which includes representation from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and the International Rugby League (IRL) Board.
“This follows extensive and urgent consultation conducted by RLWC2021 Chief Executive Officer Jon Dutton and his team, which engaged players, competing nations, the Rugby League Players Association (Australia), UK Government, hosts, commercial and broadcast partners.”
Tournament chief executive Jon Dutton said: “Ultimately, time and competing priorities from others forced us to make the most difficult decision in our six-year history.
“However, we and the sport of Rugby League are resilient, and next year we will deliver our vision of the biggest and best Rugby League World Cup ever.”
Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said: “Despite working tirelessly to explore solutions that would allow us to go ahead as planned, circumstances beyond our control have meant that postponing the Rugby League World Cup until next year is the strongest option for staging a successful tournament.”
When will the Rugby League World Cup take place?
The Rugby League World Cup will now take place between 15 October and 19 November next year.
Where will the games be held?
The Rugby League World Cup will still take place in England.
However, there have been some alterations to initial plans.
While Old Trafford was already scheduled to host the men’s and women’s finals, the wheelchair final had originally been set to take place inLiverpool. With the M&S Bank Arena now unavailable to stage the rearranged match, the wheelchair final will be held at Manchester Central convention centre.
Four other games have also been moved.
In the men’s tournament, the opening day match between holders Australia and Fiji will now take place at Headingley, Leeds, as a result of a clash with another event in Hull.
In return, the MKM Stadium, Hull, will now host New Zealand v Jamaica in on 22 October, with the fixture initially scheduled to be played in Leeds.
Anfield, which was set to stage a women’s match between England and Canada and a men’s quarter-final, is no longer available as a result of the stadium undergoing expansion work at the time of the tournament. Subsequently, those matches will now be held at the DW Stadium in Wigan on 5 November.
England will still open the tournament with a group game against Samoa at St James’ Park, Newcastle, on 15 October while Headingley will open the women’s competition on 1 November.
The wheelchair event will begin on 3 November with a double-header at the Copper Box, London,
RLWC2021 chief executive Jon Dutton said: “We have achieved our objective in delivering minimal disruption to the existing 61-match schedule and I want to place on record my thanks to all those who have made it possible.
“Every host town and city who joined us on this journey remains involved and they will set the stage for the very best that the sport has to offer. There are world-class, compelling matches, across all three tournaments at some of the most iconic venues across England.”