World Cup chiefs expected to confirm postponement on Thursday

Rugby League World Cup organisers will confirm their plans for the tournament this morning.

Jon Dutton, chief executive of RLWC2021. Picture: Alex Whitehead/

The event is expected to be postponed until 2022, following the decision by Australia and New Zealand not to compete this year because of concerns over players’ health during the pandemic. The RLWC2021 board discussed the situation yesterday and had been due to release a statement last night, but that was delayed until this morning after the meeting overran.

Jon Dutton, the tournament’s chief executive, was scheduled to address an online press conference at 8am.

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The tournament’s opening game, between England and Samoa, had been due to take place in less than three months’ time, on Saturday, October 23.

Today’s announcement will come exactly three weeks after organisers insisted they had “passed the point of no return” and the tournament would go ahead.

However, with two of the sport’s powerhouses refusing to travel, the board seem to have little option but to put the event back 12 months, which will lead to a clash with football’s global tournament in Qatar.

Castleford Tigers want Super League to copy cricket’s The Hundred and Formula One’s Sprint by introducing a new shortened form of the game for 2022.

Tigers managing director Mark Grattan has tabled a proposal for a new competition to replace the reserves called Lightning Rugby, which would consist of eight-man teams playing matches in short spells.

The competition is designed to introduce a faster, more exciting version of the game in a bid to halt the decline in attendances in Super League.

“We need to do something radical to get the fans back,” said Grattan, who has gauged interest from all sectors of the game and whose proposal is set to be discussed by clubs at Friday’s meeting called to determine the future of the game.

Scoring would consist of a point for a try, with no goals, and at least four players would have to be under the age of 21.

If the plan wins support, Grattan wants the winners of each match to receive an extra point which would be added to the Super League table in an effort to encourage clubs to take the competition seriously.

He argues the competition would allow clubs to open their doors more often, thereby increasing revenue streams, and give season-ticket holders more value for money.

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