Australia will meet Fiji, Italy and Scotland in Group B, while New Zealand were drawn against Ireland, Jamaica and Lebanon in Group C and Tonga play Cook Islands, Papua New Guinea and Wales in Group D.

In the women’s tournament, New Zealand were drawn in the same pool as Australia in a massive boost for the likes of England and PNG.

However, most interest in the Throne Room at Buckingham Palace centred on which team Prince Harry picked as England’s opponents in the opening match on October 23, 2021. The match will be played at St James’ Park in Newcastle.

Tournament organisers couldn’t have hoped for a better outcome as Samoa have the potential to be a massive drawcard if Williams chooses to play for them.

 

 

World Cup pools

Men’s Group A – England, France, Greece, Samoa

The host nation narrowly lost the 2017 final 6-0 to Australia and would be expected to top their pool but Great Britain’s disastrous Southern Hemisphere tour at the end of last season and the retirement of Sam Burgess have raised concerns.

Samoa are the obvious threat but their only win since 2016 was a 24-6 defeat of PNG in last year’s Pacific Test.

Men’s Group B – Australia, Fiji, Italy, Scotland

It would take a stunning upset for the Kangaroos to fail to top their pool but Tonga showed what is possible by beating Australia last November in Auckland and Fiji aren’t too far behind.

The Bati have qualified for the semi-finals of the last three World Cups and will be battle-hardened by Tests against New Zealand and Tonga this year.

Scotland drew with New Zealand in 2016 and Samoa at the 2017 World Cup but its hard to see them or Italy making it out of their pool.

Men’s Group C – New Zealand, Ireland, Jamaica, Lebanon

This is probably the most wide-open pool, with the exception of the current No.1 ranked Kiwis.

Jamaica qualified for their first World Cup by beating the USA more than a year ago, while Lebanon are likely to field a young team after the retirements of Robbie Farah and Tim Mannah from the team that made the quarter-finals in 2017.

Ireland were unlucky not to have advanced to the 2017 quarter-finals in place of Samoa and would have under the format for the 2021 tournament.

However, the results in Group C are likely to come down to which of Ireland, Jamaica and Lebanon has the best heritage players to help claim second spot.

Men’s Group D – Tonga, PNG, Wales, Cook Islands

After beating Great Britain and Australia at the end of last season, as well as New Zealand at the 2017 World Cup, Tonga are aiming to win the 2021 tournament and few doubt they are capable.

Besides Tonga, Group D is also wide open as PNG beat Great Britain at the end of last season and Cook Islands have the potential to field a strong line-up if all of their heritage players make themselves available.

Wales have been disappointing in recent seasons but the tournament being in the UK will be of benefit to the Dragons.

Women’s Group A – England, Brazil, Canada, PNG

The Orchids, Ravens and Brasileiras would have been doing handstands after being drawn in Group A with England.

Brazil will meet the host nation in the opening game of the women’s World Cup at Emerald Headingley Stadium on November 9, 2021.

Women’s Group B – Australia, Cook Islands, France, New Zealand

Most interest in the women’s draw was always going to revolve around which side of the draw the Kiwi Ferns were in and France and the Cook Islands now face a tough World Cup campaign.

The Jillaroos are the defending World Cup champions and also won the 2013 final but New Zealand had won every tournament before that.

Wheelchair Group B – France, Wales, Scotland, USA

Defending World Cup winners France will meet Wales, Scotland and USA in pool B.

The 2021 World Cup is the first in which the men’s, women’s and wheelchair tournaments have been staged concurrently, with all three finals to be played on the same weekend.

 

Brad Walter – NRL

Rugby League World Cup 2021 (RLWC2021) has today revealed the confirmed nations who will participate in the women’s tournament in 2021.

The announcements were made across the tournament’s official social media channels, we saw each of the eight individual nations revealed with a unique video showcasing what each nation will bring to RLWC2021.

Set to be the most inclusive rugby league event ever, RLWC2021 will see the men’s, women’s and wheelchair tournaments played concurrently for the first time. International nations were asked to submit their expressions of interest earlier this year for RLWC2021 and Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) representatives to review.

The nations confirmed for the women’s tournament are:

  • England (Hosts)
  • Australia (Holders)
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Cook Islands
  • France
  • New Zealand
  • Papua New Guinea

Each nation was assessed against set criteria that reviewed their current international and domestic infrastructure, their plans for growth and their potential impact on RLWC2021. The draw for the tournament will take place in November 2019.

Speaking about the announcement, Jon Dutton, Chief Executive of the Rugby League World Cup 2021, said: “We’re delighted the three-times world champions, the Kiwi Ferns, will be taking part in the biggest and best Women’s RLWC in 2021. The Kiwi Ferns have fantastic quality in their ranks, and it will be brilliant to see them showcased to the world, here in England.

“I would like to congratulate each nation that has been chosen to take part in the women’s tournament. We had some fantastic submissions and unfortunately, we couldn’t say yes to each nation, however, we’re confident the chosen nations will play their role in delivering the greatest, and most inclusive, Rugby League World Cup of all time. It is especially pleasing to see an inaugural South American nation compete in a Rugby League World Cup”

RLIF Chief Executive Officer Nigel Wood added: “Women’s sport is growing exponentially, and rugby league is no exception. The fact that we were oversubscribed for this competition demonstrates the immense appetite for our sport. We are encouraged that female athletes around the world are participating and rising to the challenge of skill, fitness, strength and mental toughness provided by rugby league.

“I would like to add my congratulations to each nation and wish them all the best in their build-up to what will be a fantastic event in 2021 and to thank all the nations who participated in this process and we hope that they will join in the women’s Emerging Nations World Cup, which will be a part of the Festival of World Cups 2021.

“We have to ensure that there is clear pathway developed quickly to cater for a fuller women’s international programme with events organised locally, regionally and globally, all leading to a full qualification process for the RLWC2025.”

RLWC2021 will begin with the men’s opening fixture featuring England at St James’ Park on Saturday 23rd October 2021. The women’s tournament will begin at Anfield on Saturday 13th November 2021 and the wheelchair tournament will begin on Sunday 14th November 2021 at the Copper Box Arena, with England both featuring in those opening fixtures. The event will finish with a finals weekend (27th-28th November) with the wheelchair tournament concluding at the M&S Bank Arena and men’s and women’s final held as a double-header at Old Trafford.