Australia up first for England

Wayne Bennett
Wayne Bennett

England will face Australia, France and Lebanon in the group stages of the 2017 World Cup, opening the competition against one of the home nations at the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium.

The tournament, co-hosted by Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, will begin on October 27 with the final taking place at Brisbane Stadium on September 2.

The three co-host countries have been separated in the group stages, allowing the Kiwis and PNG to play their group matches in their home country.

As for Wayne Bennett’s England, they will play one of just two games to take place in Sydney when they face Lebanon on November 4 at Sydney Football Stadium, with their final group game taking place on Sunday, November 12 against France at the Perth Rectangular Stadium.

New Zealand will entertain Scotland, Samoa and Tonga in Group B, while the Group C & D will feature PNG, Fiji and USA along with three European qualifying teams from Wales, Ireland, Russia, Serbia, Italy and Spain.

RLWC2017 Chief Executive Officer, Michael Brown, said: “The tournament draw demonstrates how far and wide we are taking matches, from established Rugby League communities, to those new and emerging fan bases in all three countries.

“Over the course of the pool stages we have looked to position matches in strong Rugby League communities and where large populations of ex-pats, Pacifica and indigenous fans live, to give those who love the sport and their national teams the chance to see some World Cup action.

“The decision to take matches to places like Darwin, Perth, Christchurch and Port Moresby were made with the future of the game in mind. They are matches we believe will give profile to the sport in markets that have already shown an appetite for Rugby League.”

The RLWC2017 Tournament Draw is family-friendly by intention, with all matches to be played across the weekend including Friday night games. There will be three double-headers in Cairns, Perth and Townsville, providing additional value for money for fans.

When not attending games, fans will experience some of the most iconic sporting destinations in the world. Sports enthusiasts will be able to explore the diversity of the eight host cities across Australia to New Zealand’s compact nature that simplifies travel and makes it easy for visitors to access all venues while experiencing a variety of tourist attractions along the way. The welcome and hospitality supporters will receive when visiting all three host nations will make the RLWC2017 a bucket list item for sports fans worldwide.

“We not only want to see traditional rugby league fans come out to support their national team, we aim to engage with the local communities of all participating teams to deliver an event that will entertain the world, inspire communities and celebrate Rugby League,” continued Brown.

“Rugby league is truly a game for everyone. We hope the Rugby League World Cup 2017 leaves a legacy for the game that sees it continue to grow and dominate the sporting landscape.”