|Current season or competition:|
|Number of teams||16 (from 2021)|
|Related competition|| Women's World Cup |
World Cup 9s
The Rugby League World Cup is an international rugby league tournament, contested by national teams of the Rugby League International Federation, which was first held in France in 1954, the first World Cup in either rugby code.The idea of a rugby league World Cup tournament was first mooted in the 1930s with the French proposal to hold a tournament in 1931, and again in 1951. The fifteen tournaments held to date have been at intervals ranging from two to eight years, and have featured a number of formats. So far three nations have won the competition (Australia eleven times, Great Britain three times and New Zealand once). Australia, France and New Zealand are the only teams to have played in all tournaments (Great Britain has been split into England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland since 1995, while England and Wales had previously competed as separate teams in the 1975 World Cup). Since 2000, the RLIF has also organised World Cups for women, students and other categories. The 2017 Rugby League World Cup was held in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea which was won by Australia.
The Rugby League World Cup was an initiative of the French who had been campaigning for a competition since 1935. The idea was raised in 1951 by Paul Barrière, the President of the French Rugby League. In 1952, Rugby Football League secretary Bill Fallowfield persuaded the Rugby League Council to support the concept.At a meeting in Blackpool, England in 1953, the International Board accepted Paul Barrière’s proposal that France should be the nation to host the first tournament to be officially known as the "Rugby World Cup". In addition to the hosts, the tournament featured teams from Britain, Australia and New Zealand. The 1954 Rugby League World Cup was won by Great Britain who defeated France in Paris on 13 November to claim the title.
The World Cup was initially contested by the four Test nations: Australia, Great Britain, France and New Zealand. The teams played each other in a league format. A final match was played between the top two teams in 1954. It was then decided that the team that finished first in the league would be declared the winner at the second World Cup in 1957, when Australia proved victorious on their home ground.
After the successful 1960 competition, in which Great Britain won the title for the second time, there would be no further World Cup for eight years. The competition had been scheduled to be held in France in 1965, this time with the inclusion of the South African team.However, after an unsuccessful tour of Australia, the French withdrew. The tournament was next held in 1968, and followed a two-year cycle until the mid-1970s.
The 1972 World Cup final between Great Britain and Australia ended 10-all, and the title was awarded to Great Britain by virtue of their superior record in the qualifiers. Great Britain were captained by Welshman Clive Sullivan who was the first black player to captain any British national sports team. The final had just 4,231 fans at the Stade de Gerland in Lyon to witness what is (as of 2020) the last British team to win the Rugby League World Cup.
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In 1975, the competition underwent a radical overhaul. It was decided to play matches on a home and away basis around the world instead of one host nation and the Great Britain team was split into England and Wales meaning that the tournament would be increased from the 4 teams of previous tournaments to 5, this number also taking part in the two future internationally held tournaments. There was not a final held to decide the champions of the 1975 tournament and so Australia won by virtue of topping the group standings. As Australia had not beaten England in that tournament a 'final challenge match' was hastily arranged which Australia would win 25-0.
In 1977 it was decided that Great Britain should once more compete as a single entity. Although the final between Australia and Great Britain was a closely fought affair, public interest in the tournament waned due to the continuing tinkering with the format and it was not held again until the mid-1980s.
From 1985 to 1988, each nation played each other a number of times on a home and away basis with a number of these games also being considered part of various international tours that took place during the years in which these world cups were being played. At the end of that period, Australia met New Zealand at Eden Park. The match was a physical encounter, and Australian captain Wally Lewis played part of the match with a broken arm. The Kangaroos won the competition 25-12 in front of a capacity crowd of nearly 48,000 spectators.
This format was repeated from 1989–1992 (with games once again also being part of tours) and Australia won again, defeating Great Britain 10-6 at Wembley Stadium in front of 73,361 people. This crowd remained a Rugby League World Cup record (and a record for any rugby league international match) until beaten by the 74,468 crowd which attended the 2013 World Cup Final at Old Trafford.The fifth nation to compete in these two tournaments was Papua New Guinea, where rugby league is the national, and most popular, sport.
In 1995, the competition was once again restructured, returning to the traditional 'host' format with ten teams entering. Unlike previous tournaments where the top two teams in the table playing in the final, a knockout stage was added with a quarter and semi final. New teams competing included Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and South Africa. Due to the Super League war, players aligned with the rebel competition were not selected by the ARL to represent the Kangaroos. This meant the absence of many star players from the Australian team's line-up. The tournament, which was also held to celebrate the centenary of the sport in England, was highly successful with over 250,000 people attending the group stages and over 66,000 people attending the final to see Australia defeat England 16-8.
Following the Super League war, the subsequent re-structuring of rugby league's international governing bodies meant that the proposed 1998 World Cup was postponed.
The 2000 World Cup expanded the field further, with sixteen teams entering. This tournament included a New Zealand Maori representative team, the only time this team has taken part. However numerous issues including poor organization and blown-out scorelines meant that this tournament was seen as highly unsuccessful with an average attendance just half that of the previous tournament. Due to these problems the competition was put on indefinite hiatus. Australia won the tournament by beating New Zealand 40-12 in the final at Old Trafford, Manchester. In the same year, the first Women's Rugby League World Cup was held with New Zealand defeating Great Britain.
The World Cup returned in 2008 with a 10-team format. Australia hosted the tournament and New Zealand were crowned champions for the first time by beating the host nation at Lang Park, Brisbane. The world cup was once again seen as a success with a 91% average attendance increase on the previous competition. New Zealand became only the third team to win the world cup and the first other than Australia since 1972.
The 2013 tournament, hosted by England and Wales, expanded to 14 teams and was considered the most successful competition to date in terms of attendances, exposure and financial output. Australia took the title again after defeating New Zealand in the final by a score of 34–2. The final attendance became the record international rugby league attendance at 74,468.
Following the 2013 tournament, it was decided that the world cup would be scheduled to take place every four years, 2017 Rugby League World Cup taking place in Australia, New Zealand and for the first time in Papua New Guinea. While Australia would claim the title once again and for an eleventh time, the tournament was considered highly successful in terms of competitiveness. The tournament would see Tonga beat New Zealand in the group stages with a score of 28-22 to top the group, the first time a team from outside the top 3 had beaten a top 3 nation in over two decades. New Zealand went on to play Fiji in the quarter-finals and lost once again with a score of just 4-2, knocking New Zealand out in the quarter-finals, the first time a tier 1 nation had exited the tournament at this early stage. Tonga played England in the semi-finals and while conceding 20 unanswered points, they would score 3 tries in just the last seven minutes to pull the score back to 20-18, eventually losing by this close margin. The final was contested between Australia and England at Lang Park, Brisbane and Australia won by just 6-0, the lowest score in world cup final history.
The 2021 tournament will be held in England with organisers expressing a desire to see a total of one million fans attend games. This tournament will see the number of teams increased to 16 once again. A proposal was put forward in 2016 to hold the 2025 Rugby League World Cup in the United States and Canada,but in December 2018 plans for the tournament to be held in North America were scrapped due to financial concerns so the location of the 2025 Rugby League World Cup will be determined by a new bidding process.
The World Cup trophy was commissioned by French Fédération Française de Rugby à XIII president Paul Barrière at a cost of eight million francs, and then donated to the International Rugby League Board to be used for the inaugural competition in 1954.This trophy was used and presented to the winning nation for the first four tournaments, before being stolen in 1970. After its recovery, the trophy was reinstated for the 2000 tournament.
Australia, France and New Zealand are the only nations who have appeared at every Rugby League World Cup from 1954 to 2017. England has also been at all, but participated under the banner of Great Britain in the majority of the earlier tournaments. Wales, including as Great Britain, has competed in all but the 2008 tournament.
In total, 19 teams have taken part in the World Cup. While 18 of these represented nations, 1 did not; in 2000, the Aotearoa Māori team was granted entry to the competition. This team is made up of New Zealand Māori players and was knocked out of the world cup in the pool stage. Only one other team has taken part in just a single world cup; Russia. In total 29 teams have/will taken part in qualifying rounds while 5 other teams have always been granted automatic qualification, meaning 34 teams have taken part in some stage of the world cup.
Qualifying rounds were first introduced for the 2000 World Cup. Rounds take the form of groups of teams from specific continents/regions; Europe, Africa/middle-east, Asia/pacific and the Americas. Teams that automatically qualify are the quarter-finalists from the previous world cup.
Qualifying for the 2021 World Cup featured 20 teams, the most to date with 8 teams having automatically qualified. 13 of these teams had never qualified for the World Cup before. 14 teams took part in the European stage of the qualifying with 4 teams in the Americas group and 3 in the world play-offs where the runner-up of the Americas group met the highest ranked teams from Asia/Pacific and Africa/Middle-East.
The Rugby League World Cup has followed a varied range of formats throughout its history as the number of teams participating has increased.
The current format has been in use since 2013 featuring 14 teams split into two groups of four and two groups of three. Three teams from the groups of four qualify for the knockout stage and one team from the groups of three qualify. Each team is awarded two points for a win and one point for a draw.
The eight teams in the quarter finals play each other with the four winners progressing to the semi finals before the World Cup Final. If the teams are level after 80 minutes extra time will be played and if the two teams are still level after extra time, a golden point will be played.
In 2017 the final tournament followed the same format as that of 2013 but this will change for 2021 when the number of teams taking part is increased to 16.
|Round Robin era|
|Groups and Knockout era|
Eight teams have officially hosted and co-hosted the World Cup.[ citation needed ] Only 1975, 1985-88 and 1989-92 were held internationally and not in a specific country. Scotland hosted games in the 2000 world cup but these games were considered to have been hosted by Great Britain rather than the specific home nations. Although games were played in Papua New Guinea during the 1985–88 and 1989-92 World Cups, they officially became the eighth nation to host the tournament in 2017.[ citation needed ]
|6||1969, 1970, 1995, 2000, 2013, 2021|
|5||1957, 1968, 1977, 2008, 2017|
|4||1954, 1972, 2000, 2013|
|3||1968, 1977, 2017|
In total, 81 stadiums have hosted world cup games over the 14 tournaments. Headingley Stadium in Leeds has hosted the tournament the most times, having had games in 7 world cups with Central Park, Wigan and Lang Park, Brisbane having hosted 6 tournaments. 52 stadiums have hosted matches in just 1 tournament. The most stadiums used in a tournament was in 2000 when 26 stadiums were used; the stadium capacity was the highest ever at 704,400. However, the occupancy was also the lowest ever at just 37.46%.
The largest stadium in terms of capacity ever used was Wembley Stadium, London with a seating capacity of 90,000; the stadium was used in the 2013 tournament as the venue for the semi-final double-header. The smallest stadium ever used was also in 2013 when The Gnoll, Neath, with a capacity of 5,000 hosted a game between Wales and Cook Islands. Despite this, it was not the lowest attended game; this was in the 2000 world cup when just 1,497 attended the game between Wales and Lebanon at Stradey Park, Llanelli.
The city with the most stadiums used is Sydney with 4. Hull and Auckland are the cities with the next highest number with 3 each.
|Winner||Score||Runner-up||3rd place||4th place|
|Round Robin Format|
|Round Robin Format|
Papua New Guinea
|Year||Host(s)||Final||Losing semi finalists||Teams|
|2021||To be decided||16|
|2025||TBD||To be decided||16|
* Highest ranked team during Round Robin round won World Cup
× 'Final' Challenge Match played, as Australia won the 1975 World Cup (decided by ranking in Round Robin round) without having beaten England.
Up to and including the 2017 tournament, only Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain had been crowned World Champions. Australia has been by far the most successful, finishing in the top three in all 15 tournaments and winning 11. Great Britain have won three times, and New Zealand once. New Zealand have also finished runners-up in three World Cups, while France have been runners-up twice, including the inaugural cup where they were captained by Puig Aubert. England have also finished runners-up three times, while the Great Britain team were runners-up four times. Fiji have reached the semi-finals three times, while Wales also made the semi-final in 1995 and 2000. Ireland and Samoa have twice made it past the qualifying pool stages. Other nations to have proceeded to the knock-out stages are Papua New Guinea, Scotland, the United States, and Lebanon.
|11 (List)||3 (1960, 1972, 2008)||–||–|
|3 (1954, 1960, 1972)||4 (1957, 1970, 1977, 1989–92)||–||–|
|1 (2008)||3 (1985–88, 2000, 2013)||1 (1995)||1 (2017)|
|–||3 (1975, 1995, 2017)||3 (2000, 2008, 2013)||–|
|–||2 (1954, 1968)||–||2 (2000, 2013)|
|–||–||3 (2008, 2013, 2017)||–|
|–||–||2 (1995, 2000)||–|
|–||–||–||3 (2000, 2013, 2017)|
|–||–||–||2 (2000, 2008)|
|–||–||–||2 (2000, 2017)|
|% change in average attendance||Stadium |
Top 10 match attendances.
|1989–92||'Old' Wembley Stadium||Final||73,631|
|2013||Wembley Stadium||Semi Final (double header)||67,575|
|1995||'Old' Wembley Stadium||Final||66,540|
|1968||Sydney Cricket Ground||Group Stage||62,256|
|1957||Sydney Cricket Ground||Group Stage||58,655|
|1968||Sydney Cricket Ground||Final||54,290|
|1957||Sydney Cricket Ground||Group Stage||50,077|
The 1985–1988 Rugby League World Cup was the ninth Rugby League World Cup tournament held and saw yet another change of format with competition stretched to cover almost three years. The national rugby league teams of Australia, France, Great Britain, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea played each other on a home and away basis. These matches were fitted into the normal international programme of three-match test series between the nations, with a pre-designated match from each series counting as the world cup fixture.
The 2008 Rugby League World Cup was the thirteenth staging of the Rugby League World Cup since its inauguration in 1954, and the first since the 2000 tournament. The tournament was held in Australia from 26 October, culminating in the final between Australia and New Zealand on 22 November.
The Australian national rugby league team, the Kangaroos, have represented Australia in senior men's rugby league football competition since the establishment of the 'Northern Union game' in Australia in 1908. Administered by the Australian Rugby League Commission, the Kangaroos are ranked second in the RLIF World Rankings. The team is the most successful in Rugby League World Cup history, having contested all 15 and won 11 of them, failing to reach the final only once, in the inaugural tournament in 1954. Only five nations have beaten Australia in test matches, and Australia have an overall win percentage of 67%.
The Rugby League Tri-Nations was a rugby league tournament involving the top three teams in the sport: Australia, Great Britain and New Zealand and is the predecessor of today's Rugby League Four Nations.
The France national rugby league team represent France in international rugby league matches. They are referred to as les Chanticleers or less commonly as les Tricolores. The team is run under the auspices of the Fédération Française de Rugby à XIII.
The England national rugby league team represents England in international rugby league.
The International Rugby League (IRL) is the global governing body for the sport of rugby league football. Previously known as the Rugby League Imperial Board, the International Rugby League Board and latterly the Rugby League International Federation, the IRL is responsible for the Laws of the Game, the development, organisation and governance of rugby leagues internationally, and for the sport's major international tournaments; most notably the Rugby League World Cup.
The Tonga national rugby league team represents Tonga in rugby league football. They are currently the fourth ranked team in the world. The team was formed to compete in the 1986 Pacific Cup, and have competed at five Rugby League World Cups, starting in 1995 and continuing consecutively until the most recent tournament in 2017, where they achieved their best ever result as semi-finalists.
The Fiji national rugby league team, nicknamed the Bati, has been participating in international rugby league football since 1992. The team is controlled by the governing body for rugby league in Fiji, Fiji National Rugby League (FNRL), which is currently a member of the Asia-Pacific Rugby League Confederation (APRLC). Fiji have thrice reached the semi-finals of the Rugby League World Cup, in 2008, 2013 and 2017, and are currently ranked 5th in the Rugby League International Federation's World Rankings.
The Greece national rugby league team represents Greece in rugby league. The national team has been participating in international competition since 2003, and have become an affiliate member of the Rugby League International Federation.
The first Rugby World Cup was held in 1987, hosted by Australia and New Zealand who pushed for the tournament to be approved. Since the first tournament, 8 others have been held at four-year intervals.
The 2013 Rugby League World Cup was the fourteenth staging of the Rugby League World Cup and took place in England, Wales, France and Ireland. between 26 October and 30 November 2013.
The Women's Rugby League World Cup is an international rugby league tournament, contested by the women's national team of the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF). The competition has been held since 2000 in Great Britain and since 2008 has been part of the Festival of World Cups. Under the current format, eight teams are separated into two groups of four with the top two qualifying for the semis.
Women's Rugby League is the female-only version of the game rugby league football. There are currently clubs for female-only participation running in Australia, Great Britain, and New Zealand which are overseen by the various individual organisations of those separate countries and internationally by the Women & Girls Rugby League.
The Tertiary Student Rugby League World Cup, also known as the University Rugby League World Cup, first took place in 1986 in New Zealand, when the then five test nations each entered a side in what was the first non-first grade World Cup hosted by the Rugby League International Federation.
The Festival of World Cups was a series of rugby league World Cups held in Australia during 2008. The Festival was being staged in Australia during 2008 to coincide with their Centenary of Rugby League celebrations. The centrepiece of the Festival was the men's 2008 Rugby League World Cup. In addition to this tournament, there were also world cups being held for University, Police, Women, Defence and Wheelchair teams.
The Rugby League Four Nations, is a biennial rugby league football tournament run in partnership between the Australian Rugby League Commission, Rugby Football League and New Zealand Rugby League representing the top three nations in the sport: Australia, England and New Zealand. The tournament replaced the previous Tri-Nations format by including a fourth nation that qualifies by winning their respective regional competition in a rotation between Europe and the South Pacific. France accepted an invitation to play in the inaugural tournament in 2009. No tournament was contested in 2012 to allow teams to prepare for the 2013 Rugby League World Cup. No tournament has been played since 2016.
The 2017 Rugby League World Cup was the fifteenth staging of the Rugby League World Cup tournament and took place in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea between 27 October and 2 December 2017. The tournament featured the national teams of 14 Rugby League International Federation member countries who qualified through either standing in the previous tournament or a series of qualification play-off matches. In the final, defending champions Australia, playing in their 14th consecutive final, defeated England at Brisbane's Lang Park.
The 2021 Women's Rugby League World Cup will be the sixth staging of the Women's Rugby League World Cup, to be held in England between 13 November and 27 November 2021. The tournament will feature eight teams, an increase of two from the previous tournament.
The Rugby League World Cup is an international rugby league tournament currently played every four years. The first tournament was held in 1954, hosted by France who had pushed for such a tournament to be approved. Since the first edition, 14 others have been held at sporadic intervals.
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