This autumn’s Rugby League World Cup has been postponed until 2022, organisers have confirmed.
The event, originally due to be held in England this October and November, has been pushed back due to safety concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Australia and New Zealand had already withdrawn citing player welfare and safety concerns and despite initial plans to go ahead anyway, officials took the decision to postpone at an emergency board meeting on Wednesday.
The decision to postpone is expected to affect the men’s, women’s and wheelchair competitions, all of which were due to be held simultaneously in England.
“We can announce this morning that the tournament will be postponed until 2022,” a tweet from the organisers read.
“We have done everything in our power to stage the tournament this year, but it is not to be.”
Johon Dutton, RLWC2021 Chief Executive Officer, said: “Today is a challenging moment for everyone involved in Rugby League, but most importantly the players and fans of the competing nations.
“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 also expressed his disappointment, but added their hand had been forced despite working tirelessly to find a solution.
“In the best interests of the sport and its millions of supporters around the world, I look forward to the Rugby League authorities in all competing nations accommodating a rearranged tournament in 2022, so we can put on the spectacle the fans deserve,” he said.