Five things to be excited about come the RLWC: Part V – The most inclusive world cup

GB Wheelchair Rugby League Players
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Cover Art

The North of England in October is usually known for a few things; the Premier League, grey skies and rain. This year, however, there will be one more thing, the 2021, or should I say the 2022-ish, Rugby League World Cup.

International football will soar to new heights after having the brakes so unceremoniously pumped, thanks to COVID. This year’s competition will feature 20 nations, 61 games and 3 formats of the game over a myriad of stadiums across the country’s North and looks to be the strongest World Cup yet. The mid-season Pacific Tests offered a tantalizing preview of what we can expect from some Tier 2 nations and the insanely stacked NZ Team. With the tournament’s commencement imminent and squads slowly being announced and whittled down to their final 24, here are five things that tickle my fancy in particular (and should probably tickle yours).

In this five-part series, I summarise the five most exciting things about this iteration of the rugby league world cup. You can read part one here, part two here, part three here and part four here.

The most inclusive world cup

Not only will the metaphorical (and, let’s actual physical drums) be beating for the men’s game, but there will be an electrifying show of the women’s and wheelchair games at the highest level. This is the 6th iteration of the Women’s Rugby league World Cup with the inaugural starting at the turn of the millennium in 2000. What makes this latest edition of the Women’s tournament different is the historic announcement that every match will be broadcast live on all BBC platforms, which is sure to capture the imagination of not only newly found fans but girls across the globe who’ll be struck with the love of the greatest game of all.

This landmark broadcasting decision coincides with a feel-good good season closer to home. The 2022 NRLW season has seen the League’s expansion with four more teams and record viewership and attendance. The administration should be using the scale and exposure of the Women’s World Cup to strengthen the game at home, to have it be in its rightful rank as the number 1 women’s sport on our shores.

Historically the wheelchair rugby league world cup event has been part of the “Festival of World Cups”, which exhibits some lesser-known formats of Rugby League, such as the Police and armed forces tournaments and the universities formats. This, however, will be the first time in history that it takes place with the main event. Although only a format that’s been around since 2008, it’s steadily growing into its own, going from 4 teams in that first showing in Sydney to an 8 team competition now. With France being the heavy favourites as defending back-to-back world champions, the pressure will be on the number 4 ranked Aussies to provide an upset and have us attempt the first-ever world cup treble.

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