22nd July 2019, 08:42 | International
England’s Men and Women now know more details of the challenge confronting them at the inaugural Downer Rugby League World Cup 9s this autumn, after an official tournament launch in Sydney earlier today.
England Women will be in a four-team group with New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the hosts, Australia, with the top two qualifying for the final – and are relishing the opportunity of playing on the big stage of the superb new Bankwest Stadium in Parramatta, on October 18-19.
Meanwhile Wayne Bennett’s England men have been drawn in a group with European rivals France and Wales, plus a Lebanon team who will be guaranteed loud and passionate support from Sydney’s Lebanese community.
There will be no room for error for England, as only the top team from their group will qualify for the semi finals.
It will be the same in a mouthwatering Pacific group featuring Tonga, Samoa, Fiji and the Cook Islands.
Australia and New Zealand have been seeded together in a group also including Papua New Guinea and the USA, with two teams from that group to reach the semi finals.
The competition will be played the weekend after the Betfred Super League Grand Final, meaning players from the clubs who reach Old Trafford are unlikely to be involved – although England are still set to have plenty of exciting options, drawn from the Elite Performance Squad that was named last week, plus the cluster of English players in the NRL.
One of those players, Ryan Hall, represented England at the official media launch.
The launch also included details of new rules that will be trialled, including a Bonus Zone, giving teams the chance for a five-point try.
Todd Greenberg, the NRL CEO, said: “The World Cup 9s will feature the most exciting players to watch in the game, representing their nations and their cultures,” Mr Greenberg said.
“It will be a festival of Rugby League and the fast-paced, frenetic nature of Nines will be fantastic to watch.
“This is Rugby League rebooted – a unique and exciting way to showcase our wonderful athletes.”
Two-day passes for the Downer Rugby League World Cup 9s went on sale today for Members, and will go on sale for the General Public on Wednesday (July 24).
Single-day passes will be available to purchase for Members from August 5 and for the General Public from August 7.
Tickets will be available via nrl.com/tickets.
The 12 teams in the men’s competition and four teams in the women’s tournament will compete across 28 matches and 12 hours of action.