RFL 'bitterly disappointed' by World Cup withdrawals

Date published: 23 July 2021

RFL chairman Simon Johnson has responded to yesterday's decision by Australia and New Zealand to withdraw their men's, women's and wheelchair teams from the Rugby League World Cup, scheduled for this country in the autumn.

He is reported as follows on the RFL's official website: "As the sport's national governing body, a member of International Rugby League, and the hosts for RLWC2021 we are bitterly disappointed by this announcement from Australia and New Zealand.

"RLWC2021 organisers have bent over backwards, offering considerable assurances and resources to guarantee player welfare and safety.

"The UK has shown the ability to host major sporting events safely on a number of occasions already this year, with athletes from Australia and New Zealand involved and enjoying considerable success whether at Wimbledon or in the ICC's World Test Championships.

"We believe it is the players of Australia and NZ - men's, women's and wheelchair - who are most let down by this decision.

"World Cups are special in any sport.

"Ours goes back to 1954, but this one is to be the most inclusive ever.

"When their counterparts from many other sports are travelling the world to play, I can see why a number of players and coaches are expressing their disappointment at being denied the same opportunities."

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