The 2021 Rugby League World Cup Qualifiers are set to get underway in Euro C – North in June.
Qualifying for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup in England begins in Czech Republic on June 16, with the start of European Championship C.
Six nations, split into North and South groups will take part, with a play-off between the respective winners taking them into the next phase in 2019.
The North group, featuring Czech Republic, Germany and Norway, will see old rivalries resumed but all three nations are part of World Cup qualifying for the first time, something that all see as providing stimulation for further growth.
Czech Republic take on Norway on June 16 and it will be the fourth time the nations have met.
Czech Rugby League Association president Lukas Hergott said: “For us to be taking part in World Cup qualifying is a dream come true.
“We are a grassroots organisation who have had to grow the sport organically with it being something totally new here, so the feeling of pride in seeing our name in these games is massive and makes all the hard work that goes in worthwhile.
“We hope to use the publicity generated from this campaign to promote our marvellous sport to a much wider audience of potential players, sponsors and fans. It should also give us a boost in obtaining official recognition from the Czech Sports and Olympic Association.”
Rugby League Norge president Lee Johnson thinks their participation in the qualifiers will trigger more interest in the country.
He said: “Taking part in the qualifiers is a great privilege for RLN.
“Although we have been only playing the game for the last ten years, we have seen our domestic competition get stronger and young players get better, and tournaments like this keep them hungry for more.
“The publicity RLN will get from playing these games will inspire the next generation, we will have a lot of new players in our squad after what has been our hardest selection camp to date.”
Germany have been focusing on building the BundesLeague competition over the last couple of years, but the qualifiers gives the best players a good opportunity to test themselves.
Nationaler Rugby League Deutschland president Bob Doughton said: “The European Championship C matches are steps on the road back for us after we decided to completely rebuild in 2013.
“We are using the games to help solidify our domestic competition and we have reiterated to our players that all places in our national team are up for grabs.
“At this stage we are not contemplating what benefits progressing in the tournament could bring. We have to overcome the significant challenges of playing against the Czech Republic and Norway first and that is where our focus lies.”
Euro C – North fixtures:
Saturday, June 16
Czech Republic v Norway, 3pm – Municipal Stadium, Vrchlabi
Saturday, August 25
Germany v Czech Republic – 4pm, Ballsport ev Osnabrück-Eversburg, Osnabrück
Saturday, September 15
Norway v Germany – 2pm, Kjølnes Idrettspark, Porsgrunn