The decision to postpone the Rugby Union World Cup until next year will help Canada prepare, but remains disappointing, according to Canadian team officials. The tournament, which features men’s, women’s and wheelchair events, was scheduled to start on October 10.
The decision to postpone the Rugby Union World Cup until next year will help Canada prepare, but remains disappointing, according to Canadian team officials.
The tournament, which features men’s, women’s and wheelchair events, was scheduled to start on October 23 in England. But it has been pushed back to 2022 following the withdrawal of Australia and New Zealand two weeks ago, citing security fears over the pandemic.
Australia have won 11 of the 15 Men’s World Cups to date, with Great Britain winning three titles and New Zealand one. The National Rugby League, which includes 15 teams from Australia and one from New Zealand, is also home to top players from other countries.
New Zealand won the first three editions of the Women’s World Cup and finished second behind Australia in 2013 and 2017.
Sixteen teams will battle for the men’s title with host England, defending champions Australia, New Zealand and Tonga leading each of the four groups.
Canada will join Australia, England, Brazil, Cook Islands, France, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea in the women’s competition, which was scheduled to take place November 13-27.
“It will certainly be disappointing for all the players and staff who have worked so hard to prepare for the World Cup in November under extremely difficult circumstances,” said Canada’s women’s coach Mike Castle in an email.
“Personally, I believe this is a positive result for our team. Considering that sport across Canada has been restricted for the past 18 months, ”added the Australian coach. “This decision gives us more time to prepare for what will be a fantastic event.”
Bob Jowett, president of the Canada Rugby League Association, agreed.
“My immediate thought was that this is very, very disappointing,” he said in an interview in Manitoba. “We were getting ready and looking forward to going. And everyone was getting down to it. We were very successful in getting sponsors.”
Tournament organizers must now avoid a scheduling conflict with the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which is slated for November 18 to December 21 in Qatar.
“There are still concerns about what will happen next year,” Jowett said.
The Canadian women, known as the Ravens, are ranked fifth in the world. They were drawn into a pool with England (No.3), Papua New Guinea (No.4) and Brazil (No.13).
At the 2017 women’s tournament in Australia, a debutant team from the Ravens from Canada lost 50-4 to New Zealand before defeating Papua New Guinea 22-8 for their first-ever international victory. The Canadians finished the group stage with an 88-0 loss to Australia. They were then beaten again, 58-6, by Australia in the semifinals.
The Canadian women’s team recently held trials with Castle and the Canadians in hopes of playing an international game against the United States in October in Vancouver.
“Another year gives more time to prepare and more time for player evaluation. And more time for players to get to where they maybe want to be physically and technically,” Jowett said.
The Canadian men, known as the Wolverines, failed to qualify for the tournament.
Rugby league is different from rugby union, the more popular of the two codes.
A rugby union team is made up of 13 players including four on the bench. Each team is only allowed six tackles (games) before the ball changes hands. A try is worth four points and a conversion two.
The rugby union teams are made up of 15 starters and eight substitutes. The game is more continuous and a try is worth five points and a conversion two.
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This report by The Canadian Press was first published on August 6, 2021
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press