The 2021 Rugby League World Cup (played in England for the first time since 2013) features thirty-two teams across three formats, and will incorporate the Men’s, Women’s, and Wheelchair finals in an epic Finals Weekend.
After a decade of uneven tournaments, the 2021 RLWC features sixteen teams in four pools of four: Greece, Jamaica and the Cook Islands enter the tournament (the USA misses out), with the powerhouses Australia, New Zealand and England not meeting until the finals.
GROUP A: England, Samoa, France, Greece.
GROUP B: Australia, Fiji, Scotland, Italy.
GROUP C: New Zealand, Lebanon, Jamaica, Ireland.
GROUP D: Tonga, PNG, Wales, Cook Islands.
Thirty-one games are played: twenty-four group games, four quarter-finals, two semi-finals and the final.
The even spread of finalists ensures the controversies of the last RLWC are avoided. In 2017, six of the eight quarter-finals came from the strong groups A and B, with the winners of groups C and D making up the numbers. Samoa – with one draw and two losses – finished third in group B, qualifying over an unluckily Ireland, who finished second in group C with two wins and one loss. Considering that Samoa lost the quarter-final 46-0 to Australia, it could be argued that Ireland would have been more competitive.
Eight teams will play the Women’s RLWC, split into two groups: England, PNG, Canada, and Brazil (group A); Australia, New Zealand, France, and the Cook Islands (group B). The top two teams in groups A and B play the semi-finals, with the winners progressing to the final.
The Wheelchair RLWC also features eight teams over two groups: England, Australia, Spain, and Norway in group A; France, Wales, Scotland, and the USA in group B. Like the Women’s RLWC, the top two teams in groups A and B play the semi-finals, with the winners progressing to the final.