Rugby League World Cup: Australia and New Zealand pull out of match

Australia players celebrate with the trophy after winning the 2017 men's Rugby League World Cup

Australia beat England in Brisbane to win the 2017 men’s Rugby League World Cup

Australia and New Zealand have pulled out of the Rugby League World Cup because of “player welfare and safety concerns” related to Covid-19.

The men’s, women’s and wheelchair events are scheduled to take place in England this autumn.

The Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) and New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) have asked organisers if it can be rescheduled for 2022.

NZRL chief Greg Peters said it was “simply too unsafe” to take part.

“The safety and wellbeing of our people is the main priority, and unfortunately, that cannot be guaranteed to our satisfaction.

“There are stark differences between how the pandemic is being managed in the UK compared to Australasia, and recent developments have highlighted how quickly things can change.

“The tournament organisers have moved heaven and earth to make this work, so it is not an easy decision, but the Covid-19 situation in the UK shows no sign of improving, and…