World Cup organisers have held an emergency board meeting to discuss the best way forward for the tournament after Australia and New Zealand confirmed their withdrawal.
The Kangaroos and Kiwis released a joint statement on Thursday confirming their withdrawal from this year’s World Cup in England, citing that it is “too unsafe to travel” due to the coronavirus pandemic.
It was only last week that World Cup organisers announced that the tournament would go ahead as planned, but the recent news from the southern hemisphere has placed the event in serious doubt.
Chris Brindley, chairman of RLWC2021, said: “The Rugby League World Cup 2021 have held an emergency board meeting following the hugely disappointing statement made by ARLC and NZRL.
“The board conducted constructive discussions on the best way forward for the tournament and will continue dialogue with all stakeholders, including the UK Government, in the coming days.
“The well-being of all those involved in the tournament, particularly players and team officials, have been the priority for the organisers. The board reiterated the relentless hard work and extraordinary measures that have been taken to create a world class environment in line with other major sports event that have been successfully hosted in UK this year.
“The board will meet again in the coming days but in the meantime will continue to concentrate its efforts on being solutions focused and achieving the best possible outcome for the tournament.”
Meanwhile, Ireland international Tyrone McCarthy wants to see this autumn’s World Cup go ahead as planned despite the withdrawals of Australia and New Zealand.
“I’m really disappointed not only from being a fan of the game, but also by not having the opportunity to play against the Kiwis,” McCarthy told Love Rugby League.
“You want to see as many of the best players as there can be. You can understand their reasoning in some extent but, as for the tournament, I’d like to think that it is going to go ahead.
“From our point of view, it is disappointing as rugby league fans but the beauty of the World Cup is that it attracts new fans and some of the new fans turning up won’t even know who some of the England players are so I still think it is a massive opportunity for the game to showcase itself and, in theory, it opens it up a little bit more to everyone else.
“Everyone wants to see the best players but if the NRL don’t rule out the players playing, then you might see some of their players representing their heritage and playing for the tier two nations. I know (James) Tedesco played for Italy in the last World Cup, so you might still see those players but in a different jersey.”