2021 Rugby World Cup in doubt

Rugby League World Cup CEO Jon Dutton has said that the chances of this year’s tournament going ahead are 50-50.

Dutton said that “further urgent discussions” are required on whether the October-scheduled tournament is stageable after key nations Australia and New Zealand pulled out citing “player welfare and safety concerns.”

In announcing its withdrawal, the Australian National Rugby League (NRL) said that its preference would be a postponement of the tournament.

Meanwhile, Dutton has said that while “we are absolutely committed to staging the tournament this year” the organiser has “always had alternative options and they include both postponement, as unpalatable as that is, and also not staging the event at all.”

The tournament is set to kick off in Newcastle on October 23, but the UK is battling rising Covid-19 cases in spite of a relatively high vaccination rate in the country.  

The organising board had an emergency meeting on Wednesday, after which the body issued a statement: “The RLWC2021 Board recognise the need to bring clarity and certainty to the situation. They have also underlined the relentless work that has been taking place to establish the most safe and secure environment for all involved – in line with other world class major events that have taken place successfully in the UK in 2021.”

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