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International Rugby League president Tony Grant issued a statement in response to news that Australia and New Zealand have withdrawn from upcoming Rugby League World Cup (RLWC) tournaments.
The two teams, one the holders and the other the world number one, have cited concerns for the wellbeing and safety of players as reasons for their announcement.
The rise in cases in RLWC host country England has led to this decision.
The kickoff of the RLWC is scheduled for October 23 and the final to be played on November 27 – both teams were strong favorites to reach it.
The ARLC and NZRL have requested that the match be postponed until 2022 to minimize the risk of participating players contracting Covid-19.
International Rugby League president Troy Grant issued a statement later on Thursday.
“I appreciate Peter calling me to explain the rationale behind the ARLC’s decision and while I appreciate the ARLC’s intention to ensure the safety and well-being of players, I’m having a hard time finding the words which adequately describe my disappointment with that decision,” Grant said.
“Every sports organization, industry, government and family worldwide has been affected by this pandemic.
“I have been in regular contact with the RLPA and a number of international players and coaches who were satisfied with the World Cup biosecurity arrangements and who were clearly determined to travel to England and proudly represent their countries. They have informed me that they feel that their own personal choice of whether or not to participate in the World Cup has been taken away from them.
“The obvious question we are asked is why can’t rugby league players make the same sacrifices as players from other sports? Unfortunately players tell me they haven’t had a chance to make that decision for themselves.”
Following the announcement, 14 teams remain in the competition, including Ireland and host nation England.
LiveScores now available on IrishScores.com
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