Written by Callum Walker
The World Cup is Rugby League’s most prestigious international tournament. And, in such trying times, it’s essential that people have things to look forward to. The likelihood is that the World Cup will function under different rules and regulations regarding spectators and player operations on the field given the fact that changes in the sport will have occurred after the lockdown has been lifted.
The anticipation for live sport will, however, ensure that this tournament will be the most celebrated in its history. The idea that people are still without their fix of Rugby League has put everything into perspective, and, that means that once things are back up and running, sport will be more championed than ever. And, what better way to showcase Rugby League than on the greatest stage of all – the World Cup?
It’s not just the lack of current stimulation either that will make the 2021 competition even better. The entertainment on the field is likely to go up another gear from 2017. The usual favourites, Australia, are of course going to be the ones to watch, but tiny Pacific Island nation Tonga proved in the last World Cup that you cannot take any side lightly.
Tonga missed making the final by just a whisker in incredibly controversial circumstances against England, whilst Fiji also reached the semi-finals and Papua New Guinea and Lebanon the quarters. That kind of competition is only going to increase with time and greater foundations.
Add into the mix new nations Greece and Jamaica – who have qualified for their first-ever World Cup – alongside the usual Home nations, France, Italy, Samoa and the Cook Islands and the tournament will throw up some mouthwatering clashes that cannot be missed.
For the first time, it’s not only the men’s competition that will be staged but the women’s and wheelchair tournaments too in a single, celebratory event. That will then lead to a never-been-seen-before finals weekend to crown the champions of each separate competition.
For English Rugby League fans it can’t get any better; live games up and down the country featuring nations full of vim and vigour can only work in the sport’s favour. As morale is at an all-time low, a well-organised, exciting and competitive World Cup can go a long way in healing some of the wounds the current lockdown has opened.
Bringing nations together in a festival of skill, talent and camaraderie with pre-game Hakas, Sipi Taus and hymns is always going to be supported. But, in such a climate as the world presently finds itself, these revelries will go to the next level as Rugby League finds itself on the global platform once more.