Video: World Cup emergency – what happens next?

Damien Cook of the Kangaroos makes a break to score a try during the Oceania Cup Test Match between Australia and New Zealand at WIN Stadium in Wollongong, Friday, October 25, 2019

Editors James Gordon and Drew Darbyshire have had their say on Australia and New Zealand’s withdrawal from this autumn’s World Cup – and they are both in agreement for once!

It was announced on Thursday morning that holders Australia and New Zealand have pulled out of participating in this year’s World Cup, which is due to get underway in England on October 23, with the hosts taking on Samoa at St James’ Park in Newcastle.

PULL OUTS: Australia and New Zealand pull out of World Cup

The ARLC and NZRL have called for the tournament to be postponed until 2022, with their announcement putting the tournament in serious doubt.

Love Rugby League editors James and Drew went live on Facebook shortly after the news broke, and were both in agreement that the tournament shouldn’t go ahead with the Kangaroos and Kiwis.

James said: “In my opinion we just can’t have the World Cup without Australia and New Zealand, no way.

“There’s four countries in the entire world that have professional clubs – Australia, New Zealand, England and France. You can’t have the two of the three or four biggest nations not in the World Cup.

“Also, the thing for me is people saying ‘play on’ but if there is an issue in releasing Australia and New Zealand players for player welfare issues, then the NRL aren’t going to release players to play for Tonga, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Fiji and even England. I just don’t see how the World Cup can go on.”

Drew added: “There aren’t many times I agree with you James but on this occasion I do!

“I think it is impossible for it to happen without the two main teams. Everyone wants to watch the Kangaroos. When I was growing up I always wanted to watch the Kangaroos whenever they were over here. It is tradition because everyone wants to see the best players in action but I don’t see how it can go ahead.

DISAPPOINTED: “This is a selfish, parochial and cowardly decision” – RFL chair slams Australia and New Zealand withdrawal

“I’ve seen a couple of people say ‘why can’t we have Super League-based Australian and New Zealand teams?’ but I think that would take away from what the tournament is. The World Cup is meant to be the pinnacle, with the best players from the best teams going at it. If you had a second string side playing then I don’t think it would be good for the tournament. And then if England went on to win it, would they really feel like they had won the World Cup?

“I’m gutted we are having this farcical discussion at this point in the year that we won’t have two of the best teams participating.”

What are your thoughts? Should the World Cup go ahead without Australia and New Zealand? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. 

About Drew Darbyshire 8652 Articles
Love Rugby League Deputy Editor. Joined the site ahead of the 2017 World Cup and been a full-time reporter since 2018.


  1. Very disappointed with their attitude towards the event and who is going to pay for all the work that has already been done. I bought my tickets for the opening game when they were first released. I agree the tournament would be pointless with Aussie and Kiwi involvement and again you’re right I can’t see all the islanders being released to play either.
    For me the galling thing is that Australian teams are already competing overseas as are the Kiwis so what makes the tournament different? It’s also 2 months away so is it because they haven’t got their vaccinations in anything like it should be?
    Very disappointed

    • It’s an act of sabotage. It’s clear they want the UK game to die out and don’t want RL to be an international sport, only a regional South Pacific sport with NRL/ARLC being its hegemon and the Pacific Islands its satellites.

      This is a de facto boycott of the RLWC 2021, because they’re participating in RU and Olympics without a hitch.

      When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. If the hypocrites from ARLC and NZRL aren’t going to make the flight to England (while AUS and NZ have no problem competing in RU and Olympics), then the IRL need to turn it around as best as possible. Not only are there now two less teams in the men’s RLWC, the women’s RLWC has lost half its Group B. So replace them with the next best-performing W teams from qualifications.

      In the men’s tournament, I recommend inserting USA, Serbia, Turkey and Canada. Two extra teams, but why not? AUS and NZ are no longer in, and these are the next biggest sides in the sport. Having Greece, Turkey and Serbia in the same World Cup will get TV coverage and do wonders for the game in that part of the world. Having two Canada teams (M/W), and Jamaica and USA in the men’s, will get coverage in North America.

      This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. The Pacific Islands are taking it seriously, this is their shot to be world champions. So the best are not yet gone. Forget AUS and NZ, and use this RLWC as a promotional vehicle for the sport for emerging markets.

  2. Australia’s Union team are due over here while the world cup is on, how embarrassing will it be for the nrl if they come, we could always invite them to take part instead of the kangaroos, we might even beat them

  3. The point is, if it doesn’t go ahead, RL is wasting its time having internationals at all.
    Time to abandon this idea altogether.

  4. How many top athletes have withdrawn from the Olympics who are at the pinnacle of their careers? The games go on because they are bigger than individuals, teams and countries. The RL World Cup should be the same. Australia and New Zealand have UK based players over here who can proudly represent them. I’m surprised there is little consideration about the effort and cost of organising the event and the damaging impact it will have on the sport.

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