Australia and New Zealand announced on Thursday 22 July that they would not participate in the 2021 Rugby League World Cup scheduled for England due to fears. “For the health and safety of players” associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a joint statement, the associations of the first two rugby union nations called on organizers to postpone the competition, which is still scheduled in England, from 23 October until 27 November next year.
Defending champions Australia were to face Fiji in the city of Hull (East) on the first day of competition and New Zealand were to play against Lebanon in Warrington (West) the next day.
Australia and New Zealand say they made the decision after taking into account the risk of pollution in England, a worsening pandemic and the risk of players spending time away from home to meet health measures before competition resumes.
The organisers, who confirmed last week that the World Cup would be held as scheduled, called the decision of the two federations “disappointing” and added that she could be “Significant Consequences for Rugby Union”.
RLWC2021 Note the disappointing statement made by ARLC and NZRL, which could have wider implications… https://t.co/bHl2WO66Qj
“RLWC2021 has been notified in a very short time and will continue discussions with all participants to agree on the best way forward. A press release will be published in due course”, he clarified.
Anger of the President of the English Federation
The anger was even stronger for England’s rugby union boss Simon Johnson, who criticized the decision of New Zealanders and Australians as a“Selfish, Stubborn and Cowardly”.
“I could agree with him if I hadn’t known that Australian athletes are in Tokyo for the Olympics right now, that New Zealand cricketers have played in England this summer and that the Australian rugby union team will be coming for a series of matches in October.”, Simon Johnson insisted.
️ “I can understand why the players are extremely upset” RFL president Simon Johnson branding the decision A… https://t.co/UnEp1b7hSL.
“Not participating in the World Cup was not an easy decision, but we must put the best interests of our players and managers first, protect them, for his part, argued the President of the Australian Federation, Peter Wellandis. In the current context, the risks posed to the safety, health and well-being of our players and officials, who will have to leave Australia to participate in the tournament this year, are insurmountable”.
His New Zealand counterpart Greg Peters, for his part, insisted that the decision to withdraw was taken in the best interest of the players and officials. “Tournament organizers have moved heaven and earth to make it so it was not an easy decision, but the situation on the UK pandemic front is showing no signs of stopping. and there managementMr. Peters said.
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