Delayed NRL season set to affect 2021 World Cup

The potential cancellation of th end-of-year Kangaroo tour would be a massive setback but World Cup organisers believe their tournament remains on track to fulfil its ambitious targets if the 2021 NRL and Super League seasons proceed as scheduled.

RLWC2021 CEO Jon Dutton confirmed during an international teleconference with journalists that the dates and venues for matches had been finalised but plans to announce ticketing details have been delayed due to uncertainty over the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dutton said he was still confident of meeting the stated goal of selling 750,000 tickets for the men’s, women’s and wheelchair World Cup events but prices may be revised as the economic downturn caused by the global health crisis is expected to leave fans with less money to spend.

The Kangaroo tour, including a three-Test series against England, at the end of the year was set to be a significant promotion for the World Cup but it is now in severe doubt after the Telstra Premiership was suspended as NRL officials consider the possibility of a range of scenarios for their season which could result in a December grand final.

“If it doesn’t go ahead it will be a real blow,” Dutton said. “We hoped to use that as a marketing tool to help show people what the World Cup will truly be but we will wait patiently for news from the RFL and ARLC about the Ashes tour and whether it goes ahead or not.”

Of greater concern to World Cup organisers is the knock-on effect a delayed finish to this year’s NRL and Super League competitions could have if the 2021 season starts and ends later, with the tournament due to begin at St James Park on October 23, 2021.

“The Rugby League World Cup has to really be played at that particular time of the year that we have in October and November so any delay to the start of the 2021 season will clearly have an impact,” Dutton said.