Tournament organisers faced several unique and complex challenges - the most significant being the non-release of up to 400 players, match officials and staff members from the NRL competition in Australia.
This was despite all requests from international rugby league federations having been met, which included the rigorous health measures that have been keeping thousands of elite athletes from around the world safe whilst competing in major sporting events across the UK over the last year.
The RLWC board - which includes representation from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and the International Rugby League (IRL) Board – ultimately made the tough decision to postpone the world cup until next year in the best interests of players, staff, fans and the tournament itself.
Though the decision has been detrimental to the plans and ambitions of many of the competing nations and potential replacement teams, the Board wanted to ensure that fans of Rugby League are able to enjoy the best possible tournament, which was not possible under the circumstances the tournament faced.
Warrington partners support the Board’s decision to delay the event and responsible decision making in the face of adversity. RLWC2021 will continue creating positive social change within communities like Warrington’s through its trailblazing social impact programme.
Warrington Borough Council Chief Executive, Professor Steven Broomhead MBE, said: “Though we are greatly disappointed with the postponement of the tournament, we have full faith and confidence in the Rugby League World Cup organisers and would like to thank them for all of the work they’ve done so far.
“We are satisfied that the decision to postpone the RLWC2021 is in the best interests of the players, staff and supporters, to ensure full participation from all nations and to be able to deliver the best and safest tournament for all.
“While we will have to wait a little longer to cheer on the international teams, this gives us even more opportunity to ensure we can bring the finest and most interactive world cup events to Warrington next year.
“We are still thrilled to be a host town for the tournament and are excited to hopefully be able to welcome the Papua New Guinea team next year, as well as hosting games and the PDRL showcase in Warrington.”
Further details about the tournament and games will be communicated in due course.
Visit warrington.gov.uk/rlwc21 for the latest Warrington RLWC updates and events. You can also follow @WtonRLWC21 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.