World Cup 2008 Draw Announced

The draw for the 2008 Rugby League World Cup has been made, with the controversial "super pool" system in place.

It sees England line up in a group with Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea in Pool One. There will be two other pools containing three teams.

The top three teams from Pool One will qualify for the semi finals, with the winners of Pool Two and Three facing each other in a qualifier to see who makes up the final semi final spot.

The tournament will get underway on the 25th October with Australia facing New Zealand. The final will take place in Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium on 22nd November.

Of the ten teams, seven have already qualified – Australia, New Zealand, England, France and Papua New Guinea who were automatic entries, and Tonga and Fiji, who qualified via the Pacific Cup.

Seven other teams – Ireland, Lebanon, Russia, Scotland, Wales, USA and Samoa – are still attempting to qualify and fill the final three places.

The system has been devised to prevent a repeat of the 2000 World Cup, which saw several one sided games and nearly saw the collapse of the RFL.

"Already the tournament has achieved an enormous amount in promoting the game in developing nations," said Colin Love, chairman of the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF).

"There's a real sense of anticipation building in those countries still working to qualify.

"There's enormous enthusiasm for the game internationally and the spirit of World Cups in all sports is to respect the so-called minnows as much as the established stars.

"It will also, as shown in last year's Tri-Nations final, showcase the remarkable rivalries of traditional powers such as Australia, England and New Zealand.

"It's a compelling event not only for rugby league fans but for all sports fans.

"Australians love to give an 'underdog' a go and World Cups are a celebration of that very spirit."

Tickets for the 2008 World Cup will go on sale in August 2007.

2008 World Cup pools:
Pool 1: Australia, New Zealand, England, Papua New Guinea
Pool 2: France, Fiji, winner Euro A Pool 2
Pool 3: Tonga, winner repechage, winner Euro A Pool 1

2008 World Cup schedule:
Saturday, October 25: Australia v New Zealand
Sunday Oct 26: England v Papua New Guinea
Sunday October 26: Euro A Pool 1 v Tonga
Sunday October 26: France v Euro A Pool 2
Friday October 31: Fiji v France
Friday Oct 31: Tonga v Repechage
Saturday November 1: New Zealand v Papua New Guinea
Sunday November 2: Australia v England
Wednesday November 5: Euro A Pool 2 v Fiji
Wednesday November 5: Euro A Pool 1 v Repechage
Saturday November 8: England v New Zealand
Sunday November 9: Papua New Guinea v Australia
Monday November 10: Semi-final qualifier for Pool two and Pool three winners
Tuesday November 11: Ranking match, Pool 2 second place v Pool 3 third place
Friday November 14: Ranking match, Pool 2 third place v Pool 3 third place
Friday November 14: Ranking match, Pool 1 fourth place v semi-final qualifier loser
Saturday November 15: Semi-final one
Sunday November 16: Semi-final two
Saturday November 22: Final 

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