The postponement of the Rugby League World Cup has understandably left many fans of the sport disappointed, and frustration at the decision was laid bare in Betfred‘s latest episode of The Last Tackle.
Appearing on the programme, former England Captain and Leeds Rhinos prop Jamie Peacock and rugby league journalist Gareth Walker discussed the postponement, lamenting the impact on the sport.
The decision to reschedule the competition – due to be held in England with the backing of £25 million in UK government funding – until 2022 was undertaken after 16 clubs of Australia’s National Rugby League (NRL) voted to boycott the tournament.
“You really felt that this was going to be the biggest rugby league world cup of all time regardless of what’s been going on the past 18 months,” he began.
“For me it’s disappointing, I think the opportunity was now, the game needed something like this at the end of the year, to look forward to and springboard into 2022, where hopefully we would be well and truly past COVID.”
“Now we’re going to stretch it out for another period, and just for me it’s been dressed up as player welfare, and we know the protocols that the rugby league world cup have put in place. We see lots of other sports have the ability to have their players participate – like the Olympics for example and the rugby union in the autumn – the way that’s been dressed up just doesn’t sit right with me going forward.”
When quizzed on the influence of the National Rugby League (NRL) on the decision to postpone the planned World Cup, Peacock agreed that the top-flight Australian tournaments appeared to be ‘calling the shots’.
He commented: “It’s disappointing within a sport, that the world stage should be the most important stage and that should take precedence over everything else, but unfortunately in rugby league that’s not the case.”
Meanwhile, rugby league journalist Gareth Walker noted that the women’s games and wheelchair rugby have also been negatively affected by the decision to suspend the tournament, noting that these sports ‘should not be forgotten’.
He explained: “They shouldnt be forgotten, and as Jamie’s mentioned, I think some of the things that have gone on in Australia during this scenario have been disrespectful towards the people over here, like the four-minute warning to announce it.
“The latest one was the women’s competition over there, where they have just decided to move the women’s competition to October and November and take out all the best players from the Southern Hemisphere for what would have been the World Cup over here.
“They definitely need to be considered because that was a huge factor, having these three concurrent tournaments offering opportunities to women and wheelchair players around the world, and hopefully that’s all back in place because that’s definitely a key part of this tournament.”
Source – Betfred YouTube Channel