World Cup boss believes NRL’s international plan could impact the tournament

RUGBY LEAGUE’S World Cup boss has told the meddling NRL their international plan could badly affect the 2021 tournament in England.

The governing body Down Under wants Australia to play the reinstated Great Britain side here in 2019, then a Four Nations tournament featuring England but not them and New Zealand in the northern hemisphere in 2020.

 England lost the last World Cup final. Now its tournament director believes the NRL could affect the next one.

EPA
England lost the last World Cup final. Now its tournament director believes the NRL could affect the next one.

England’s rugby director Kevin Sinfield blasted the notion the world’s top two sides will not face them the year before they go for glory.

Now tournament director Jon Dutton has joined in ahead of a Rugby League International Federation meeting this week, claiming the NRL scheme could hit sponsorship takings.

He said: “We have to stimulate a new market to achieve our targets and to do that we need good quality international rugby league, that has to happen in 2020.

“I’m slightly disappointed the calendar isn’t fixed and firmed and that everyone can have something to look forward to. We’ve got good quality international rugby league here this year with New Zealand coming, that must happen in 2020.

“We want to attract new brands into the sport, brands want to plan forward and know exactly what’s taking place. We hope discussions get fixed and that everyone has something to look forward to. We’ll be making our voice heard on what’s best for the tournament.”

 Australia are meant to tour here in 2020 but the NRL wants them to come in 2019

Getty Images – Getty
Australia are meant to tour here in 2020 but the NRL wants them to come in 2019

Dutton believes the 2021 World Cup can propel rugby league to a new level in the UK and admits some of the bigger Super League venues may miss out on England games because they are not big enough.

That opens the door for Newcastle’s St James’ Park, Anfield and Elland Road, while Spurs’ new ground may also land some matches, alongside Wembley in London.

With the decision on the 14 host venues coming in December, he added: “Our job is to move from towns into cities and into bigger venues.

“We need to make sure England play in front of the largest possible audience and for people to engage with the tournament that might not engage with rugby league.

“London will definitely stage games and will definitely be involved. We aspire to be a mega-sporting event. We have to transcend the sport. We can’t exclusively talk to the rugby league community, we have to be much, much wider than that.”

RUGBY LEAGUE’S World Cup boss has told the meddling NRL their international plan could badly affect the 2021 tournament in England.