SCOTLAND and Ireland have been left to qualify for the World Cup after their omission from the World Cup Nines – but some of their key players will still have to chose between that assignment and the Great Britain tour of the Pacific.
Host nation Australia has named the 12 men’s and four women’s teams who will compete in the first tournament of its type since 1997, at the $300 million Bankwest Stadium in western Sydney.
Scotland and Ireland have World Cup qualifiers beginning the week after the World Cup Nines, to be held on October 18 and 19. While players will now be free to prepare, some will still have a choice to make.
Great Britain’s Tour of the Pacific begins on October 26, the same weekend the Irish are due to take on Spain and Scotland meet Russia. One of the players who may have to chose is St Helens star Lachlan Coote, who is eligible for both the Bravehearts and Lions.
The teams in the men’s World Cup Nines will be: Australia, New Zealand, England, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Fiji, France, Samoa, Wales, Lebanon, Cook Islands and the United States.
The women’s teams are: Australia, New Zealand, England and Papua New Guinea.
Interestingly, on June 21 South Africa and the Cook Islands are to play off in an eliminator for the 2021 World Cup. Cook Islands are widely expected to win and progress to a qualifier against the United States.
The inclusion of the US and Cook Islands for the World Cup Nines suggests a 13-a-side international may be played around the event.
“This will truly be a festival of Rugby League over two days,” NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said in a statement
“We will have the colour and passion from some of the Pacific nations including Samoa, Tonga and Fiji, the might of Australia, New Zealand and England, as well as some emerging nations including Lebanon, the US and Cook Islands.
“This is an opportunity to showcase this exciting and unique brand of Rugby League to a wider audience both in Australia as well as well beyond.
“We will see the best players in the world involved in the fast-paced, free-flowing and entertaining Nines format over one weekend in what will be a first for the game.”
World Nines were held in Suva in 1996 and Townsville in 1997. Hundreds of Nines tournaments have been held around the world since, including at Commonwealth and Pacific Games, but none involving full strength national sides across a range of nations.”