New Zealand, Australia Named Co-Hosts For 2017 Rugby League World Cup
The Rugby League has awarded the 2017 World Cup to New Zealand and Australia. The co-hosts submitted their bid last year and beat out South Africa. The hosting proposal includes games in Papua New Guinea, with the possibility of further fixtures staged in other Pacific Islands. NZ Rugby League CEO Phil Holden said, "In putting this bid together, our overriding aim was to continue to grow 'the greatest game of all' around the globe and, importantly, secure a pinnacle event on the NZ calendar to capitalise on the game's current growth and momentum." Holden hopes New Zealand hosts a semifinal or final (NZRL). In Auckland, David Long reported although Auckland "is the stronghold of league in New Zealand," Holden said that they "will take games around the country and it's likely the Kiwis will play pool games in Wellington and Christchurch as well as Auckland." Cities such as Hamilton and Dunedin "would probably pick up other pool games." Holden: "A core drive for us is to ensure that we spread it around and there's a national perspective to our pool and tournament." Holden "doesn't regard the situation as a battle that's looming" between New Zealand and Australia about getting the final "because it won't be decided by either nation." Holden: "It's not an emotional decision, it will be contestable, but it will be pragmatic and whatever is best for the tournament overall" (FAIRFAX NZ NEWS, 2/19). The BBC reported the Rugby League Int'l Federation said that "they want the tournament to build on the success of the 2013 World Cup," which saw games in England, Wales, France and Ireland. Bid Committee Chair Nigel Wood said, "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" (BBC, 2/19).
BUILDING ON SUCCESS: The PA's Ian Laybourn reported Wood said, "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." South Africa, who entered a team in the 1995 and 2008 World Cups, "have only a fledging domestic game but argued they could help spread the game internationally and believed, as hosts, they would have been granted government recognition" (PA, 2/19). In Auckland, Michael Brown reported New Zealand "has never hosted the rugby league World Cup," although the 1988 World Cup final was staged at Eden Park, which "was the culmination of the three-year worldwide tournament." The success of last weekend's Auckland Nines at Eden Park "was good timing for the joint bid, with rugby league in this country proving they can stage major events." The New Zealand Government is "also keen to host global events on a regular basis and they put their backing behind the Australasian bid." Holden: "It's a massive result for New Zealand rugby league and is going to be a huge benefit to the country overall'' (NEW ZEALAND HERALD, 2/19).