DETAILS of the draw for the Rugby League World Cup 2021 have been announced and it does not need any explaining.
That is because tournament organisers have produced a wonderful advert in which a schoolgirl – imitating a teacher – stands at the front of class to spell out just how it will all work on January 16.
The ‘children’, some of whom are sitting to attention, are various players from the men’s, women’s and wheelchair events, including Leeds Rhinos’ Australian forward Trent Merrin, Hull FC’s England prop Scott Taylor and Huddersfield Giants’ Jamaica full-back Ashton Golding.
Bradford Bulls’ Amy Hardcastle gets one question right while Featherstone Rovers and Scotland back-row Dale Ferguson is seen chuckling at the back and England Wheelchair star James Simpson is also present in the hilarious sketch.
Although the actual event – hosted at 21 venues across England – is still two years away, it is just the sort of classy publicity that is sure to catch the public’s imagination and will hopefully build profile as organisers seek to fulfil their aim of making it the ‘biggest and best’ tournament since the competition began in 1954.
When it comes to the draw itself, it is beginning to take shape after more information was revealed yesterday in a more customary manner at Old Trafford. The men’s draw, for example, sees England pre-allocated into Group A as hosts, world champions Australia into Group B, New Zealand into Group C and Tonga into Group D.
RLWC2021 and International Rugby League (IRL) have agreed each group should represent the rugby league playing world and, as such, will contain at least one nation from the Pacific region and at least one nation under the jurisdiction of the Rugby League European Federation.
Therefore, Lebanon will not be included in the draw for Group A and will be reintroduced after either Fiji, Papua New Guinea or Samoa is selected.
The rest of the draw will then be conducted without any other changes. One team from each of three pots will make up four respective groups. Pot One includes all 2017 quarter-finalists – Fiji, Lebanon, Papua New Guinea and Samoa – while Pot Two homes France, Jamaica, Scotland and Wales and Pot Three sees Cook Islands, Greece, Ireland and Italy. Once conducted, the draw will reveal the opening fixture for each tournament which will include England and take place at St James’ Park (men’s), Emerald Headingley (women’s) and the Copper Box Arena (wheelchair).
The remaining fixtures will be announced later. RLWC2021 chief executive Jon Dutton said: “We believe this is the first-ever public draw for the tournament and with the 32 teams across the three tournaments all in place, we are delighted to share details for the draw in the New Year.
We’re confident the draw will continue our aspiration to deliver a digital first tournament, whilst celebrating the vibrant diversity of the nations we will welcome.RLWC2012 CEO Jon Dutton
“We’re confident the draw will continue our aspiration to deliver a digital first tournament, whilst celebrating the vibrant diversity of the nations we will welcome to the tournament in 2021. The aim is to connect with people around the world and create a global sense of excitement.”