The Aussie Kangaroos sing their hearts out before the match
The governing bodies of Australian and New Zealand Rugby have been accused of being ‘selfish, parochial and cowardly’ after deciding to withdraw both teams from the Rugby League World Cup due to take place in England in October and November this year.
Citing the pandemic and saying that the UK isn’t a safe place to travel to, it has thrown the event into disarray with suggestions that it might yet still be cancelled.
The Australian government have come under heavy criticism of ate with their draconian Covid-19 precautions which have meant that citizens can’t even leave the country without special dispensation issued from the top.
Team huddle - The Roos work best when they're in close quarters
Obviously the Aussie government are free to make their own decisions but even the rugby players are questioning why they can’t compete when the World Cup is months away and vaccines are being administered by the million every day.
The chairman of the Rugby Football League, Simon Johnson last week insisted that the Australia and New Zealand governing bodies must accept the World Cup will still go ahead this year as planned with or without them.
The Kiwi team might not get a chance to play in the World Cup
All four teams (including Aussie and Kiwi women’s teams as well) hold an astounding track record and Johnston also said that he is seeing signs of a player backlash in both countries following the decision to withdraw the two sides from the event.
In a statement, Johnson also added ‘This appears like a final blow, but I’m interested to hear what players and coaches are saying. I’m seeing signs that there is a backlash building in Australia. The Australian players want to retain their trophy. This decision has been taken by their leadership and it pulls the rug under the feet of the athletes who want to play. That is not good enough.’
Let's hope the Roos get to play, it's touch and to at the moment
The World Cup has already received about £25 million from the UK Government who are of course keen for it to go ahead after successful sporting events have already happened. Reports have come in that 75% of players are happy to travel to the UK to play.
On that subject, Johnson had this to say: ‘From a Covid perspective, I’m not sure what’s going to be different in 2022 that isn’t happening in autumn 2021. By that time, Australia will have played a whole rugby union series here, the Olympics, Paralympics and Commonwealth Games will have happened and there will have been full stadiums in football. The assurances the World Cup organisers gave were comprehensive and extremely well resourced. Personally, I don’t think postponing is a real option: if we don’t do it in 2021, there’s a chance it may not happen at all’