World Cup to be expanded to 16 teams

The Rugby League International Federation has announced that the 2021 World Cup will be expanded from 14 to 16 teams.

“The growth of rugby league internationally is reflected in the expansion of the tournament to four pools of four,” RLIF chief executive DavidCollier said.

“The strength of the 2017 World Cup qualifiers to date, across the continents, has shown a significant increase in playing standard and quality and the newly adopted international calendar will ensure that teams will have a minimum of 15 months prior to the 2021 event to stake their claim.”

The 2017 World Cup will be held in Australia, New Zealand and Papua. The hosts for the 2021 tournament have yet to be decided.

“The World Cup is the pinnacle and we are already receiving expressions of interest to run the 2021 events in world class facilities, to provide the players and supporters with the highest possible experience,” Collier said.

“Bids are due to be returned to the RLIF by the end of June – and we are anticipating and encouraging more nations to apply – and the hosts will be announced by the end of 2016.”

The RLIF has also announced that the 2021 Women’s World Cup, which will run at the same time as the men’s tournament, will be increased to six nations.

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