11 November 2020

  • First-ever Physical Disability Rugby League (PDRL) World Cup will take place during RLWC2021 between five competing nations: New Zealand, England, Wales, Scotland, and Australia
  • PDRL World Cup will take place in Warrington from 1-7 November 2021
  • Showpiece final will take place at the Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington ahead of Samoa v France – the final group A match in the RLWC2021 men’s tournament

Rugby League World Cup 2021 (RLWC2021) has today confirmed of details regarding the first-ever Physical Disability Rugby League (PDRL) World Cup, an exhibition event, which will be held during next year’s showpiece tournament.

The five-team tournament will be hosted in Warrington from 1 November 2021 and will be a festival of exciting and competitive international PDRL. The event will culminate with the final at the Halliwell Jones Stadium ahead of France v Samoa in the final men’s group A match, on 7 November 2021.

The PDRL event was originally planned under the banner of the Festival of World Cups, which was due to take place in the summer of 2021, but the Festival was recently postponed because of the impact of COVID-19. RLWC2021 have today (28 October) announced delivering the PDRL World Cup as part of the wider programme of the tournament, adding to the commitment of being the most inclusive Rugby League World Cup ever.

The PDRL World Cup, which will run alongside RLWC2021, comprises teams from five nations who will take part in a mini-tournament format. England, New Zealand, Australia, Scotland and Wales are all set to compete for the first ever PDRLWorld Cup title.

PDRL is an adapted version of rugby league aimed at facilitating those with physical disabilities the opportunity to play.

RLWC2021 Chief Executive Jon Dutton said: “We are delighted that we can still deliver this first-ever PDRL World Cup alongside the Men’s, Women’s and Wheelchair competitions in what will certainly be the biggest, best and importantly most inclusive Rugby League World Cup in history.

“The action will be intense, and the final being staged at Warrington’s Halliwell Jones Stadium before the France v Samoa game ensures not only a big crowd but also a fitting finale to this tournament. Although we are sad that the Festival of World Cups has understandably been postponed, we are proud that we can stage the PDRL World Cup.”

Professor Steven Broomhead MBE, Warrington Borough Council Chief Executive and Vice Chair of Warrington Wolves said: “We’re incredibly proud to be hosting the PDRL event at our prized Halliwell Jones Stadium, as part of the biggest and most inclusive Rugby League World Cup yet.

“We’re excited to be part of PDRL story and to be able to encourage more people to get involved with and watch these games. Everyone working within PDRL is determined to make next year a monumental event and we hope that the games inspire more teams to join the PDRL in the years to come.”

Sandra Hickey, Chairperson of Physical Disability Rugby League NZ said: “We are really excited about the opportunity to see our athletes shine on the global stage. This will be the first time our athletes will get to play in such a grand event as the Rugby League World Cup, wearing the Kiwi jersey with pride,  right alongside their able-bodied peers. Our focus now is on training, fundraising and doing all we need to bring that cup back home with us.”

The PDRL World Cup schedule will be released in due course for more information visit: rlwc2021.com

To view a special message regarding the PDRL World Cup from RLWC2021 ambassador and Warrington Wolves PDRLplayer Adam Hills visit: https://youtu.be/DFanTONqjGo

The New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) and Physical Disability Rugby League New Zealand (PDRLNZ)  have teamed up to spread the word of inclusiveness and diversity in sport with rugby league as the vehicle.

The NZRL welcomes PDRL on board as an official affiliate of the organisation, a partnership NZRL CEO Greg Peters is in full support of.

“We are delighted to officially welcome PDRLNZ into the New Zealand Rugby League whanau,”

“Sandra Hickey (founder of PDRLNZ) and her team have done a brilliant job of getting PDRLNZ to where they are today, recently returning from the 2018 PDRL Emerging Nations World Championships with a silver medal,”

“Listening to the stories of the PDRLNZ athletes is truly inspirational and we are so lucky to officially have them on board as an NZRL Affiliate,”

“I look forward to working alongside PDRLNZ to make the game of rugby league accessible to everyone,” Peters said.

Physical Disability Rugby League is a modified version of the game for players with a physical disability who wouldn’t otherwise be able to play. It does not shy away from the impact, collision and physicality of league, but has full contact, partial contact and touch elements, so that it caters for a wide spectrum of impairments, including amputees, cerebral palsy, neuromuscular disorders, limb deficiencies and acquired brain injuries. The rules allow two able bodied players a team, and provide for both male and female players.

When speaking with Sandra Hickey, it’s hard not to buy into her passion for Physical Disability Rugby League in New Zealand and the difference it is making to the lives of their athletes.

“I am absolutely wrapped for our organisation to be affiliated with the National Governing Body as it is not something we take lightly,”

“This partnership creates the opportunity for our PDRL athletes to stand hand-and-hand with their able-bodied peers on the world stage, just as the Kiwis and Kiwi Ferns do,”

“The New Zealand Rugby League is very much entering a fresh new era and we are very proud to be a part of that journey,” Hickey said.

Hickey also says rugby league is helping to break down the stigma of being disabled and encourages people to embrace all participants for who they are.

The partnership between the NZRL and PDRLNZ reinforces the organisation’s commitment to the ‘Sport for Everyone’ framework. This agreement saw sports organisations in New Zealand collaborate in a joint initiative to ensure all codes foster a welcoming and inclusive environment for anyone and everyone to enjoy.

On Friday night, the Physical Disability Rugby League NZ put on a spectacular curtain raiser before the Warriors v Sharks clash.

Sky TV followed their pre-game preparations and captured just how much it meant for the players to run out at Mt Smart.