The Rugby League International Federation has confirmed that Australia and New Zealand will co-host the 2017 Rugby League World Cup national team tournament.
The joint bid was chosen over a rival pitch from South Africa, which has never hosted the rugby league showpiece but did stage the 1995 Rugby World Cup rugby union tournament and has been on the look-out for major sporting events since staging the 2010 Fifa World Cup football competition.
The Rugby League World Cup has changed in format several times since its inaugural edition in France in 1954, but the UK, France, Australia and New Zealand – in co-hosting the 1977 edition with Australia – are the only countries to have hosted the main competition. Last year’s Rugby League World Cup took place in England, although matches were also staged in Wales, France and Ireland.
“This was not a simple decision but with fans of international Rugby League buoyed by the recent success of RLWC2013, we were determined to get it right,” said the federation’s vice-chair Nigel Wood. "Both bids were thoroughly compelling but the joint Australia/New Zealand bid was selected as the one with the greatest chance of success in providing more compelling games in world-class environments, in front of big, passionate crowds. The bid from South Africa was very strong, prepared professionally and clearly demonstrated a passion for Rugby League that is growing by the day in that country.”
Details of the qualifying competition for the tournament will be decided by the federation at a later date.