Following the latest meeting of the European Rugby League board, it has been confirmed that the 2021 Americas Championship has been cancelled, due to ongoing logistical difficulties for the nations involved in the region caused by Covid-19..
Originally scheduled for Kingston, Jamaica in 2020 and featuring Chile, USA, Canada and the hosts, it was moved to America and re-arranged for May 2021 because of the pandemic, but has now further delayed until next year.
“The forced cancellation of the Americas Championship is extremely disappointing for all the nations, however, it is the only sensible choice as the members continue to battle the social and financial impact of Covid-19,” said Americas regional director, Romeo Monteith. “We are all hopeful that conditions that favour playing will return soon and as a region we can start planning for the next instalment of the Championship scheduled for 2022.”
In more encouraging news, the Middle East Africa region has put forward a new representative format which features a proposed four-tier competition with promotion and relegation. It will cater for the growing number of nations playing the sport and allows all members and any new observers to participate in a MEA event.
The plan is to have an MEA Cup, MEA Championship, MEA League and MEA Regionals, with each tier determined by membership status criteria.
“The Middle East Africa region event format will fall into line with similar federation competition in Asia Pacific, the Americas and Europe,” said MEA regional director, Remond Safi. “New and current members will participate in a pathway to qualify for future World Cups. The Middle East and Africa region is a very exciting growth area for the whole sport. I’m looking forward to seeing this format expand and to build each individual level to obtain its own commercial and branding opportunities.”
Meanwhile, in Europe, Montenegro’s application to become an Observer member of the ERL has been formally approved.
ERL chair Maurice Watkins, CBE noted: “It is of course disappointing to have to cancel more competitions but we have good reason to believe that normality will return soon. The ERL continues to make strong process from an organisational excellence perspective, and this recent meeting of the board rightly had a principal focus on that area.”