World Cup set for team increase

The next Rugby League World Cup will be contested by 12 teams, an increase on last year’s 10 team event in Australia.

The competition was criticised for its strange format in 2008, while the previous tournament in 2000 nearly caused the collapse of the Rugby Football League.

However, the RFL are hopeful a bigger tournament will help improve the potential for a profitable event.

“The plan has been based on 12 teams, so it is a racing certainty there’ll be 12,” said RFL chairman Richard Lewis.

In addition, the tournament will be based primarily in rugby league heartlands to maximise attendances.

In 2000, bad weather and staging games in union heartlands resulted in poor attendances.

“Unashamedly we will be using the heartland and we will be using our clubs,” said Lewis.

“We want to make sure we give the rugby league fans week-in, week-out the chance to buy tickets at competitive rates.

“We will try as much as possible to have full stadiums, that is an important part of how the World Cup looks.”

Additionally, the RFL is looking into the possibility of staging double-headers at some venues to increase crowd interest.

Lewis also anticipates plenty of interest from television companies keen to screen the event.

“I think it will be very competitive for the TV companies,” he said. “A short, sharp competition like the World Cup is very attractive to terrestrial TV.”

Plans will be made over the next 12 months before an official launch some time in 2010 with a likely staging date of October and November in 2013.

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