With 500 days to go until the opening fixture of the Rugby League World Cup 2021 (RLWC2021), tournament organisers have announced that Warrington will host the men’s team from Papua New Guinea.
Warrington is used to seeing thrilling rugby league action and has a hugely passionate fan base that is sure to welcome an exciting Papua New Guinea squad with open arms in 2021. The Pacific Islanders may even give the locals a run for their money in terms of passion, as it’s the only nation in the world that boasts rugby league as its national sport.
The PNG men’s team, nicknamed The Kumuls (the ‘birds of paradise’) are ranked 6th in the world, and the World Cup next year will be their eighth appearance in the tournament. After making the quarter finals in 2017, The Kumuls will be hoping to cause an upset and go even further next year.
Paul Taylor, who chaired Warrington’s initial bid group, said: “The announcement that we’ll be welcoming PNG to Warrington is hugely exciting. A team and nation of such energy, vibrancy and passion is a perfect match for our town. In the same way we enthusiastically welcomed Samoa in 2013, I know we’ll do the same again with PNG next year.”
Leader of the Council, Cllr Russ Bowden, said: “Today marks another big milestone on the road to Rugby League World Cup 2021 as we celebrate 500 days until the tournament starts.
“I’m sure our massive rugby league fan-base and community in Warrington will be really excited to welcome a nation that equals our own passion for the sport. In the same way we as a town continue to punch above our weight, so too, do PNG. Being ranked sixth in the world, The Kumuls could be a genuine contender and dark-horse, so it’s a mouth-watering prospect that our town will be looking after them during the tournament.
“We’re set to see some brilliant games and be a real hive of activity for RLWC2021 and I know the PNG men’s team with have a fantastic stay there.”
The squads from the 21 unique nations and 32 teams will be based in different locations. The full list of host towns and cities, and the corresponding nations is as follows:
- Bolton – France (Men’s)
- Doncaster – Samoa (Men’s)
- Hull – Fiji (Men’s)
- Leeds – Jamaica, Ireland (Men’s), England, Papua New Guinea, Brazil, Canada (Women’s)
- Liverpool and St Helen’s – Tonga, Italy (Men’s teams)