Rugby Football League president Simon Johnson has insisted that Australian governing bodies and New Zealand must accept that the World Cup goes this year as planned and saidthat he saw signs of a reaction from players in these countries following the decision to withdraw the two teams from the event.
The Commission Australian Rugby Union and the New Zealand Rugby League announced Thursday that they will not be sending teams to compete in the men's, women's and wheelchair competitions in England this fall, citing welfare concerns and the safety of players linked to Covid-19 as the main reason for their withdrawal.
If there is no reversal of this decision, the tournament organizers will have to decide to run the tournaments without the two leaders of the international rugby league names or to postpone the event to the next year, which would coincide with the FIFA World Cup in Qat ar.
Johnson has not given up hope that the tournament will go like this. planned from October and withAustralia and New Zealand both involved. After calling the ARLC and NZRL decision to withdraw from the World Cup "selfish, parochial and cowardly", he also suggested that the call was made at the level of the meeting room under the influence of the main National Rugby League clubs and without consultation with any of the players or staff who would travel to England.
" I think it's time for everyone to accept that this World Cup is going on "said Johnson. "It sounds like a knockout blow, but I'm interested to hear what the players and coaches are saying. I see signs that there is a backlash in Australia. Australian players want to keep their trophy. This decision was made by their leadership and it is pulling the rug under the feet of athletes who want to play. It 's not good enough. "
La Guard ian comtakes that a recent poll showed that 75% of the players consulted by the Australian players union remained happy to travel to England for the World Cup.
Many within the rugby league believe that the strong influence the NRL has over the ARLC is indeed the reason the Kangaroos were withdrawn from the World Cup. Clubs fear that after a period of mandatory quarantine and rest after the tournament, which ends in late November, the game's top players will return to preseason training later than originally planned. This is why they want the tournament to be held in 2022 instead.
The organizers of RLWC2021 were convinced that they could guarantee ARLC and to the NZRL to sign the participation agreement by applying strict bubble conditions. This however did not do the trick, leading RLWC2021 toexpress "disappointment " at the withdrawal of the southern power plants, as well as the short notice given to them - barely four minutes.
“We've known for some time that clubs are concerned about the World Cup and tried to work their muscles. To some extent, they've been successful, ”Johnson said. "The power is there for the International Rugby League and the ARLC to enforce the appeals and this idea of saying they didn 't receive any assurances about the safety is not my understanding of what happened.
"From a Covid perspective, I don't know what will be different in 2022 that will not happen in the fall of 2021. By that time Australia will have played a whole series of rugby union here, the Olympics, Paralympics and Commonwealth Games will have taken place and there will have been stadiums. full of football. The assurances given by the organizers of the World Cup were comprehensive and extremely well documented. Personally, I don't think postponement is a real option: if we don't do it in 2021, there's a chance it won't happen at all. "
The World Cup has already received around £ 25million of government financial support, and organizers have secured lucrative broadcast and sponsorship packages for the event, which is set to start in Newcastle on October 23 when England face Samoa at St James 'Park.
In a joint statement Thursday evening, RLWC2021 and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sports said: "We are surprised and disappointed by the unexpected announcement from the Australian and Rugby League authorities of New Zealand . We have responded to all requests for the establishment of stringent sanitary measures thathave ensured the safety of thousands of elite athletes while participating in major sporting events across the UK.
"In the best interests of the sport, we remain open to further discussions with the Australian and New Zealand rugby league authorities on any additional assurances they may need. We remain committed to providing a superb sporting spectacle. "