2020 European Championships cancelled by RLEF

James Gordon

The RLEF have cancelled this autumn’s European Championship – but have re-scheduled the lower tier championships for next year.

A new structure for the competition was due to kick-in this year, with four tiers of the European Championship due to be played in October and November.

The top tier competition, which was due to include France, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and for the first time, Italy and Spain, was last played for in 2018, won by France.

The B, C and D Championships have been rescheduled for 2021, which will start the qualification process for the 2025 World Cup.

Following a meeting of the Rugby League European Federation board, agreement has been reached on the status of the four-tier 2020 European Championships.

It has been confirmed that the men’s European Championship A, due to be played in October/November 2020 will be cancelled, whilst the men’s European B, C and D Championships, also due to be played in October 2020, have been postponed and are now rescheduled for 2021 – which will signify the start of the qualification process for the 2025 Rugby League World Cup.

RLEF chairman, Maurice Watkins CBE, said: “It was an incredibly difficult decision, with every consideration taken into account and what we believe to be the right one regrettably made. The nations involved are at different stages regarding the scale and impact of the coronavirus pandemic, some have moved on considerably since the first consultation calls in April, whilst others have not responded at the same rate.

“All our member nations agreed that now is the time to make a final decision about the Championship structure.

“Sadly, nobody can be certain or confident at this stage about the Covid-19 landscape come the scheduled kick off. Player and staff safety and welfare remain our primary concerns, along with the range of necessary and differing individual government protocols.”

Nations may seek to play alternative international fixtures outside of the tournament in 2020.

In 2022, the European Championship A competition will increase to a record eight nations with the projected inclusion of England and the top side from the men’s 2021 European Championship B, who will be promoted for the first time.