Home Nations await RLWC draw

Last Updated: 15/01/20 11:50am

Australia are the holders of the Rugby League World Cup after triumphing on home soil in 2017

Australia are the holders of the Rugby League World Cup after triumphing on home soil in 2017

England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland will all discover their opponents when the draw for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup is made at Buckingham Palace on Thursday.

The Duke of Sussex, who is patron of the Rugby Football League, will conduct the draw alongside dual-code international Jason Robinson and the chair of UK Sport, former Olympic rowing champion Dame Katherine Grainger.

The draws will also be made for the women’s and wheelchair events which will run in tandem for the first time, and representatives from all 21 nations involved will be in attendance.

Prince Harry will host the Rugby League World Cup draw at Buckingham Palace

Prince Harry will host the Rugby League World Cup draw at Buckingham Palace

Most interest will centre on England’s opponents for the opening match, which will be held at St James’ Park, Newcastle, on October 23.

The hosts, along with holders Australia, 2008 champions New Zealand and the fourth-ranked nation Tonga have been pre-allocated to their groups and the remaining teams will be drawn from three pools of four.

It will be an open draw, with the exception of Pool A where England cannot be paired with Lebanon after it was decided each group must have a Pacific region team to ensure an even geographical spread.

England faced Papua New Guinea in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup quarter-finals

England faced Papua New Guinea in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup quarter-finals

That means England’s opening match will be against Samoa, Fiji or Papua New Guinea.

Fiji, PNG, Samoa and Lebanon qualified automatically after reaching the last eight in 2017, while France, Greece, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, Jamaica and Cook Islands fought their way through qualifying to book their places in the 16-team tournament which will culminate in the final at Old Trafford on November 27.

Greece and Jamaica will be making their World Cup debuts, while Brazil are newcomers to the women’s tournament.

Australia are also bidding to defend their women’s title, while France are the reigning wheelchair champions.

Follow Thursday’s 2021 Rugby League World Cup draw with our live blog on the Sky Sports website.

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