England set to find out European Championship opponents

James Gordon
Kai Pearce-Paul England News Images

Photo: Mark Cosgrove/News Images

England will find out their opponents in the end of season European Championship, when the tournament draw is made later today.

It is still unconfirmed whether it will be England or England Knights participating in the tournament, which also acts as a qualifier for the 2025 World Cup.

The future of out of contract England coach Shaun Wane remains an unknown too, with his contract having expired at the end of last year’s World Cup when the host nation were beaten in the semi-finals by Samoa.

Knights head coach Paul Anderson and the RFL’s national player development manager, Dave Rotheram, are due to be present at the draw.

European Championship draw and format

The eight participating nations will be drawn into two pools of four. The two highest ranked teams outside of England and France in the tournament will earn a spot at the 2025 World Cup.

France automatically qualify for the World Cup as hosts, while England qualified courtesy of reaching the quarter-finals of the recent World Cup.

Serbia will participate at the elite level for the first time, having earned promotion by winning the 2021 European Championship B against Russia and Ukraine.

Home nations Ireland, Scotland and Wales will be joined by Italy and Spain.

Nations will play three pool games, before it is thought a final is played between the two pool winners.

Knights or England?

The international calendar for 2023 remains largely unconfirmed due to the ongoing wrangle Down Under between the NRL and its players over a collective bargaining agreement.

That is delaying any possible confirmation of a home test series for England, with Tonga thought to be the most likely opponent.

Should that go ahead, it would be the Knights that participate in the European Championship, although other nations have expressed their disappointment if this comes to fruition.

MORE: Why the wait goes on for international calendar & England plans for 2023

First ever Women’s World Cup qualifiers

Taking place alongside the men’s European Championships draw this evening is the first ever draw for a women’s World Cup qualifying event.

Women’s rugby league pioneer Julia Lee, who is chair of the IRL’s Women & Girls Advisory group, will make the draw alongside former Great Britain Lioness Joanna Carr-Will.

There are two World Cup 2025 places up for grabs in the European qualifying tournament, which will feature eight nations.

Greece, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, Serbia, Turkey and Wales will be drawn into two pools of four. England and France are not included, with them having already secured their places at 2025 World Cup by virtue of their participation in the most recent World Cup.

The women’s World Cup will also hold qualifying tournaments in Asia-Pacific (involving Fiji, Samoa and Tonga), the Americas (Chile, Jamaica and USA) and Middle East/Africa (Cameroon, Ghana, Lebanon, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa).

Only the make up of the pools is expected to be announced this evening, with further details of the schedule to be thrashed out and revealed at a later date.

SCHEDULE: How the international rugby league calendar is shaping up for 2023

European Championship (men)









European Rugby League World Cup 2025 Qualifiers (women)