New Zealand and Australia have withdrawn from the Rugby World Cup due to the safety concerns and player welfare related to Covid-19. The women’s, men’s, and wheelchair events all got scheduled and will happen in England. The chief of the New Zealand Rugby League or NZRL said it was extremely unsafe to take part. Simon Johnson, the chairman of Rugby Football League or RFL, said that it is the most selfish, cowardly, and parochial decision.
Johnson said that the Rugby League World Cup organizers provided every assurance to the Australians and Kiwis. The organizers are unhappy with the decision and are not prepared for it. NZRL Chief Peters stated that the decision of pulling out was made for the wellbeing and safety of the players. There are severe differences between the ways pandemic is being managed in the United Kingdom compared to Australasia.
He further said that the tournament organizers had done a lot to make this work, and it is also not an easy decision. However, the Covid-19 situation at present in the UK shows no indication of improvement, and it is too unsafe for teams and staff to be there. Australia Rugby League Commission or ARLC chairman Peter V’landys expressed that withdrawal from participation in the World Cup was not a decision which the commission took easily. But they thought for the best interests of the players and officials. Protecting them is an extreme priority.
Organizers have only confirmed earlier that the tournament will take place, but Australia never signed the participation agreement. There are reports that the National Rugby League of Australia wants the tournament to get postponed to next year, and the strict regulations of Australia will let players return to their clubs just two weeks prior to the 2022 NRL season trial games.
RFL Chief Dissatisfied with the decision
The RFL chairman Johnson questioned in response that why the players of Australia and New Zealand are traveling to participate in other sports. He believes that postponing the tournament will clash with several other sporting events in 2022. He said he thinks the public would want to know why they are making this decision as other athletes of these countries are participating in the Tokyo Olympics. The New Zealand cricket team has also participated. So, there is something which only the Rugby League authority believes is unconquerable where other sports still have no problem.