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Rugby World Cup 2021 Betting Offers – England

rugby league world cup england 2021Mention the words ‘World Cup’ to people and the event that they think of will depend entirely on which sport they enjoy the most. Football supporters will think of moments featuring Ronaldo, Pele or Geoff Hurst, whilst cricket lovers will remember Viv Richards putting England to the sword or South Africa throwing it all away in 1999. Rugby fans, on the other hand, will look towards countless moments over the years from their own World Cup.

Contested by teams that are part of the Rugby League International Federation, the Rugby World Cup was inaugurated in 1954 in France. It sees the best national teams from around the world gather together and go up against each other for the right to be crowned world champions. Since the turn of the millennium there have also been World Cups in rugby for students, women and other categories. The interval between tournaments varies, sometimes being 2 years and sometimes 8.

The 2021 edition of the WC, the 16th edition, is held England and sees 16 teams compete in a group phase followed by a knockout stage that starts with the quarter-finals.  Rugby League isn’t a sport that attracts a lot of bookies offers, but the World Cup is different, we’ve done the hardwork so you don’t have to and have collated the best deals from UK betting sites below.  Further down find event information, history, trivia and more.

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World Cup Draw

Pool Group A Group B Group C Group D
Seeded England Australia New Zealand Tonga
Pool 1 Samoa Figi Lebanon Papua New Guinea
Pool 2 France Scotland Jamaica Wales
Pool 3 Greece Italy Ireland Cook Islands

In January 2020 the draw for the World Cup was made at Buckingham Palace, in fact this was Prince Harry’s last official royal duty. The 8 quarter finalists at the 2017 world cup qualify automatically.

The eight other teams were defined by the end of 2019 through continental and intercontinental play-offs.   The opening ceremony will take place at St James’ Park in Newcastle on 23 October 2021.

Quarter Finals

Fixture Date Time (UK) Stadium
? v ? November TBC Anfield
? v ? November TBC John Smiths Stadium
? v ? November TBC University of Bolton Stadium
? v ? November TBC KCOM Stadium

Semi Finals

Fixture Date Time (UK) Stadium
? v ? November TBC Elland Road
? v ? November TBC The Emirates

World Cup 2021 Final

Fixture Date Time (UK) Stadium
? v ? 27th November TBC Old Trafford

World Cup Format

knockout structureAs you will no doubt have picked up, the Rugby League World Cup’s format has changed almost every time that the competition has taken place. The organisers have struggled to settle on a format that is seen as a winning one, resulting in occasional confusion over how exactly things will work.

With that in mind, the best thing to do is to look at the 2021 World Cup as the example of how the tournament works. It sees the eight quarter-finalists from the 2017 World Cup qualify automatically, with the other eight nations decided by a qualification tournament.

A decision was taken that the tournament would be made up with teams from each of the following jurisdictions:

  • 7 from Europe (including hosts England)
  • 6 from Asia-Pacific
  • 1 from Middle East/Africa
  • 1 from the Americas
  • 1 from an intercontinental play-off

As with previous World Cups, the tournament involves a group stage with four teams in four different groups. The top two teams in each group at the end of the group stage matches move through to the knockout stage.

The quarter-finals involve the eight teams that qualified from the groups going up against each other in one-off matches. The four winners move into the semi-finals, with the two winners of those matches qualifying for the final.

The final match will see the best two teams that have made it through both the groups and the knockout stage go head-to-head to decide upon the overall winner and therefore the world champions.

World Cup Venues

Stadium Opened Capacity City
Old Trafford (Final Venue) 1910 74,994 Manchester
Emirates Stadium 2006 60,260 London
Anfield 1884 54,074 Liverpool
St James’ Park 1892 52,405 Newcastle
Elland Road 1897 37,890 Leeds
Riverside Stadium 1995 34,742 Middlesbrough
Bramall Lane 1855 32,702 Sheffield
Ricoh Arena 2005 32,609 Coventry
University of Bolton Stadium 1997 28,723 Bolton
KCOM Stadium 2002 25,586 Hull
Kirklees Stadium 1994 24,500 Huddersfield
Headingley Stadium 1890 21,062 Leeds
Totally Wicked Stadium 2011 18,000 St Helens
Keepmoat Stadium 2007 15,231 Doncaster
Halliwell Jones Stadium 2004 15,200 Warrington
Leigh Sports Village 2008 12,000 Leigh
Kingston Park 1990 10,200 Newcastle
York Community Stadium 2020 8,005 York

At the time of writing, 81 different venues have been used to host Rugby League World Cup matches. In essence the venues that are used to host matches have to be large enough to cope with the crowds that will attend, as well as a decent infrastructure to be able to transport people to and from the stadiums.

Noteworthy grounds that have hosted Rugby League World Cup matches include the following:

  • Parc des Princes (Paris)
  • Sydney Cricket Ground (Sydney)
  • Headingley (Leeds)
  • Eden Park (Auckland)
  • Old Wembley Stadium (London)
  • Old Trafford (Manchester)
  • Lang Park (Brisbane)
  • Lloyd Robson Oval (Port Moresby)
  • Wembley Stadium (London)

History of the Rugby Union World Cup

rugby player with trophyThe French had been campaigning for a World Cup format to be put in place since about 1935, but it wasn’t really taken seriously until raised by the President of the French Rugby League, Paul Barrière, in 1951. The following year it was supported by the Secretary of the Rugby Football League, Bill Fallowfield. He managed to persuade the Rugby League Council that it was a good idea and when the International Board met in Blackpool the following year Paul Barrière’s suggestion that the French should host the inaugural tournament in 1954 was accepted.

The first ever iteration of the competition saw France go up against Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand, with the two European teams reaching the final. It was Great Britain that ultimately triumphed, defeating the home nation in Paris on the 13th of November to be crowned the first ever world champions. It was seen as a resounding success and the four Test nations continued to compete against each other in a league format. In 1954 the top two at the end of the league had competed in a final, but this was changed for the second World Cup in 1957 and Australia, who finished top of the league, were declared champions.

Tournament Gets A Radical Overhaul

rugby player throwing ball iconNot much changed in the years that followed, with the exception of the fact that it took an eight year hiatus between 1960 and 1968 because France, who were supposed to host it in 1965, withdrew after a poor showing during a tour of Australia. When it resumed it continued on a two-year cycle, with the 1972 final witnessing the first black player in Clive Sullivan to captain any of the British national sports teams. Yet the biggest change to the Rugby League World Cup since its inception occurred in 1975 when it was completely overhauled in a rather radical fashion.

Rather than having one host nation, as had been the case in all previous iterations, the decision was taken to host matches on a home and away basis for teams around the world. Not only that but Great Britain was to be split into England and Wales, which allowed the number of participants to increase from four to five. That year there was no final, so Australia were declared champions when they finished top of the group. The only problem was that they had not beaten England during the tournament, so a challenge match was arranged that the Aussies won 25-0.

People Lose Interest

rugby player ready to kick a conversionIn 1977 the decision was taken to reunite Wales and England into a Great Britain team, which then reached the final against Australia. Despite it being quite a thrilling match, the public had begun to lose interest in the World Cup because the tournament had been tinkered with so much. Indeed, such was the lack of interest that the competition had a hiatus until 1985. When it resumed it took place over three years, with matches that were part of other tours considered to be part of the World Cup.

That format was then used again between 1989 and 1992, seeing Australia win it for the second time in a row. Despite the general apathy towards the tournament, the crowd that witnessed the Kangaroos defeat Great Britain 10-6 at Wembley Stadium was a record figure, topping out at 73,361. That record stood for more than twenty years until 74,468 people turned up to Old Trafford in 2013. The lack of interest in the tournament as a whole led to another re-think ahead of the next World Cup in 1995.

The Tournament Expands

One of the main ways that it was decided that the World Cup could garner more interest was by expanding and restructuring it. It moved from a 5 team tournament to one in which 10 teams would enter, along with a return to the host nation format that had been used when it was first created. It was re-jigged by adding a knockout stage, which featured both a quarter-final and a semi-final stage before the two best teams played each other in the final.

The tournament in 1995 was marred slightly by the Super League War in Australia and New Zealand during which the Australian Rugby League (ARL) and the Australian Super League wrestled for control of the top-level of rugby league in the antipodean nations. The result was that players that had sided with ASL were not selected to represent Australia. Even so, it proved to be extremely popular and more than a quarter of a million people attended the group stage matches.

Competition Is Put On Hiatus

rugby player silhouettesAt the turn of the millennium the tournament was once again expanded, resulting in 16 teams entering it. One of the teams was a New Zealand Maori side, which was the only time that they have taken part. Poor organisation, blown-out scores and a lack of excitement led to yet another feeling of apathy from the public. The result was that the World Cup was put on hiatus for an indefinite period of time, though the Women’s Rugby League World Cup was inaugurated in 2000 and took place again in 2005.

The men’s version of the tournament didn’t return until 2008, with the format having returned to a 10 team format. Australia were the hosts and once again reached the final, but they were defeated by New Zealand and the Kiwis won the tournament for the first time. The long absence of the competition perhaps made rugby fans miss it, the result of which was that fans returned to watch the matches and there was an average attendance of 91% more than at the previous tournament.

Modern Tournament Takes Shape

rugby drop kick

For the 2013 tournament England and Wales acted as joint hosts and the competition was expanded to include 14 teams. It was the year that the record attendance to date for a final was set, with Australia beating New Zealand 34-2. On financial, attendance and exposure scale it was considered to be the most successful World Cup to date, with a decision being taken after its conclusion to schedule the World Cup every four years. The 2017 tournament took place in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, with the latter bering hosts for the first time.

Part of the reason for the success of the 2017 World Cup came in the fact that the big teams didn’t have it all their own way. New Zealand were defeated by Tonga in the group stage before eventually being knocked out by Fiji in the quarter-finals. When England played Tonga in their semi-final they had to cling on to win 20-18, eventually losing to Australia in the final. The result of the success was a decision to make the 2021 World Cup one that will include 16 teams once again.

The Paul Barrière Trophy

rugby league world cup trophyCommissioned by the President of French Fédération Française de Rugby à XIII, Paul Barrière, the Rugby League World Cup trophy cost 8 million francs. It was donated to the International Rugby League Board ahead of the inaugural World Cup in 1954 so that it might be presented to the winners of the competition.

Named the Paul Barrière Trophy in honour of him, it was presented to the winners of the first four iterations of the Rugby League World Cup but was stolen in 1970. It was stolen just days before the final itself, meaning that no trophy could be presented to the winners that year. Between 1972 and 1995 a number of different trophies were presented, including one that Tiffany’s were commissioned to create for £10,000 in order to celebrate the centenary of the game of rugby in 1995.

In 1990 Bradford residents Stephen and Elizabeth Uttley discovered the original trophy in a ditch close to the Bradford and Bingley Rugby Club. He didn’t immediately recognise it and enquiries with local clubs bore no fruit. As a result he turned it in to the police, but it was returned to him 28 days later when it went unclaimed. Eventually he gave it to his friend who ran the White Rose Health Club in Bradford. It was only when rugby league historian Trevor Delaney saw a photo of it in a newspaper that the trophy was recognised.

It was brought back into use ahead of the 2000 World Cup and has been used in the tournaments ever since. It features four levels, based on top of a plinth. There is a top on the cup and two handles, both of which are usually adorned with the colours of the winning team when the trophy is presented.

Stats and Records

There are countless records to tell you about when it comes to the Rugby League World Cup. Starting with just the stadiums used, no venue has hosted the competition more times than Headingley in Leeds. At the time of writing it has been responsible for hosting seven different Word Cups. The year 2000 saw the most stadiums used when 26 were used for the World Cup.

The largest stadium that has hosted a World Cup match is Wembley, which has room for 90,000 supporters. The smallest is The Gnoll in Wales. It has a capacity of just 5,000 and hosted a game between Wales and the Cook Islands in 2013. Remarkably, that wasn’t actually the lowest attended match in World Cup history. Instead that honour goes to Stradey Park, also in Wales, that welcomed just shy of 2,000 people through its doors when it hosted a match between Wales and Lebanon during the 2000 World Cup.

When it comes to the nation that has been crowned champion the most, Australia is well out in front. They have finished as the winners on 11 different occasions, having been runners-up a further 3 times. Great Britain and New Zealand are the only other nations to have won the World Cup at the time of writing. Great Britain are also what you might call the ‘unluckiest’ team, having appeared in the final as losers 4 times. England can challenge that title, however, having appeared in 3 finals without winning one at the time of writing.

The best year for average attendance was 1957, when an average of 35,820 people turned up to watch the 6 matches that were played. That gave a total attendance of 214,918, which is dwarfed by the 2013 overall attendance figure of 458,483. 2017 should, perhaps, have had the best attendance on account of the fact that there was enough room in the stadiums used for 750,700 people.

Previous Rugby World Cup Winners

Year Winner Runner Up Result Host
2025 ? ? ? TBC
2021 ? ? ? England
2017 Australia England 6-0 Australia, New Zealand & Papua New Guinea
2013 Australia New Zealand 34-2 England & Wales
2008 New Zealand Australia 34-20 Australia
2000 Australia New Zealand 40-12 UK, France & Ireland
1995 Australia England 16-8 England & Wales
1989-92 Australia Great Britain 10-6 International
1985-88 Australia New Zealand 25-12 International
1977 Australia Great Britain 13-12 Australia & New Zealand
1975 Australia England Won League International
1972 Great Britain Australia 10-10# France
1970 Australia Great Britain 12-7 England
1968 Australia France 20-2 Australia & New Zealand
1960 Great Britain Australia Won League England
1957 Australia Great Britain Won League Australia
1954 Great Britain France 16-12 France

Team Statistics

Statistic Team Number Year(s)
Most Titles Australia 11 1957, 1968, 1970, 1975, 1977, 1985-88, 1989-92, 1995, 2000, 2013, 2017
Most Appearances Australia & France 15 1954-2017
Most Wins Australia 65 1954 – 2017
Most Loses France 42 1954-2017
Most Matches Australia 77 1954 – 2017
Highest Points (Overall) Australia 2470 1954 – 2017
Highest Points (Match) Australia 114 (110-4) 2000 vs Russia
Points Conceded (Overall) France 1479 1954 – 2017
Best Points Difference (Overall) Australia +1754 1954 – 2017
Worst Points Difference (Overall) France -856 1954 – 2017
Biggest Wining Margin Australia 106 (110-4) 2000 vs Russia
Biggest Win Percentage Australia 84.4% 1954-2017
Lowest Win Percentage Russia & South Africa 0% 2000 & 1995-2000

Player Statistics

Statistic Player Number Year
Most Appearances Kurt Sorensen (New Zealand) 25 1975-89
Most Points (Overall) Jonathan Thurston (Australia) 124 2008-2017
Most Tries (Overall) Valentine Holmes 17 2017-2021
Tries (Tournament) Valentine Holmes 12 2017
Tries (Match) Valentine Holmes 6 2017

Tournament Statistics

Statistic Location Number Year
Highest Attendance Match Old Trafford (England) 74,468 2013
Highest Attendance Final Old Trafford (England) 74,468 2013
Highest Attendance Tournament England & Wales 458,483 2013
Lowest Attendance Tournament Australia & New Zealand 62,456 1968
Highest Attendance % Capacity England & Wales 80% 2013
Lowest Attendance % Capacity France 28% 1972
Highest Average Attendance Tournament Australia & New Zealand 31,562 1968
Lowest Average Attendance Tournament France 8,922 1972
Highest Attendance Capacity Australia, New Zealand & Papua New Guinea 750,700 2017
Lowest Attendance Capacity England 181,200 1970
Most Tournaments Hosted England 6 1969, 1970, 1995, 2000, 2013, 2021
Most Matches In A Tournament UK, Ireland & France, England 31 2000, 2017
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