World Cup heading to Wigan after all

Australia and New Zealand have signed up for the re-scheduled 2021 Rugby League World Cup - which is expected to now include Wigan's DW Stadium.
Wigan's DW StadiumWigan's DW Stadium
Wigan's DW Stadium

The tournament, which was due to start on October 23, was pushed back 12 months after the Australian Rugby League Commission and New Zealand Rugby League both pulled out due to concerns around player safety amid Covid-19.

The competition will now start on October 15, 2022, and officials say that both the big two, along with the other 30 competing nations across the men's, women's and wheelchair events, have fully committed to it.

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Organisers were forced to revise the tournament schedule and say that, despite the delay, only five matches have been impacted.

Liverpool FC, which was due to host a women's match between England and Canada and a men's quarter-final on Saturday, November 13, is no longer available due to the Anfield Road expansion work.

Liverpool's M&S Bank Arena, which was due to host the wheelchair final on November 26, is also unavailable due to prior commitments but Liverpool will still provide the training bases for Italy and Tonga.

It is thought Wigan's DW Stadium has been earmarked to take over as host of the Anfield fixtures and should be confirmed when the full 61-match schedule is revealed on Friday - one year out from the men's and women's double-header final at Old Trafford when general admission tickets go on sale.

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England will still kick off the tournament with a group game against Samoa at St James' Park, Newcastle.

Organisers have confirmed all 61 matches will be shown live across the BBC and also announced the re-introduction of the Physical Disability Rugby League World Cup, to be held in Warrington, with Ireland as a sixth participant.

World Cup chief executive Jon Dutton said: "For everyone involved in this trailblazing tournament, today is a very important and exciting milestone on our journey to 2022.

"We have suffered a setback but since that moment in August we have dedicated all our energy towards rebuilding.

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"A huge amount of work has gone in behind the scenes and thanks to so many people we have the opportunity to deliver a bigger and better tournament next autumn."

Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said: "Rugby league means so much to many people across the country, so I'm delighted the Rugby League World Cup is on track to kick off next autumn.

"The UK has a strong record of hosting major international sporting events and this will be another fantastic opportunity to showcase our towns and cities, and to inspire our young people to get involved in sport.

"The Government is a keen supporter of rugby league and we absolutely can't wait to host the world's best teams in what is set to be a bumper year of sport and culture in 2022."

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