ENGLAND, Scotland, Wales and Ireland will all discover their opponents when the draw for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup is made at Buckingham Palace at noon on Thursday.

The Duke of Sussex, who is patron of the Rugby Football League, will conduct the draw alongside dual-code international Jason Robinson and the chair of UK Sport, former Olympic rowing champion Dame Katherine Grainger.

The draws will also be made for the women's and wheelchair events, which will run in tandem for the first time and representatives from all 21 nations involved will be in attendance.

The draws will be streamed live across the Twitter and Facebook channels of RLWC2021 and The Royal Family, which has four million followers.


The BBC Sport website will also be showing the draws live from 11.40am.

Most interest will centre on England's opponents for the opening match, which will be held at Newcastle’s St James' Park on October 23.

Warrington Guardian:

St James' Park will host England's opening group game at the 2021 Rugby League World Cup


The hosts – along with holders Australia, 2008 champions New Zealand and the fourth-ranked nation Tonga – have been pre-allocated to their groups and the remaining 12 teams separated into the following pots be drawn into three pools of four.

Pot 1 - Fiji, Lebanon, Papua New Guinea, Samoa

Pot 2 – France, Jamaica, Scotland,Wales

Pot 3 – Cook Islands, Greece, Ireland, Italy

It will be an open draw with the exception of Pool A, where England cannot be paired with Lebanon after it was decided each group must have a Pacific region team to ensure an even geographical spread.

That means England's opening match will be against Samoa, Fiji or Papua New Guinea.

Fiji, PNG, Samoa and Lebanon qualified automatically after reaching the last eight in 2017 while France, Greece, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, Jamaica and Cook Islands fought their way through qualifying to book their places in the 16-team tournament, which will culminate in the final at Old Trafford on November 27.

Greece and Jamaica will be making their World Cup debuts while Brazil are newcomers to the women's tournament.

Australia are also bidding to defend their women's title, while France are the reigning wheelchair champions.


Warrington will of course be involved in the tournament, with the Halliwell Jones Stadium confirmed to be hosting three men’s group stage matches.

It is also hoped the town will host one of the competing teams – as they did for Samoa when the World Cup was last on these shores in 2013 – but that is yet to be confirmed.

Warrington Guardian:

New Zealand perform the Haka before facing Samoa at The Halliwell Jones Stadium in 2013. Picture by Mike Boden

As well as their opener at St James’ Park, England will play group matches at Sheffield’s Bramall Lane and Bolton’s University of Bolton Stadium.

Bolton will also host a men’s quarter final along with Anfield in Liverpool, Hull’s KCOM Stadium and the John Smith’s Stadium in Huddersfield.

The Emirates Stadium – home of Arsenal Football Club – will host its first ever non-football event when it stages a men’s semi-final, with the other last-four clash being held at Elland Road in Leeds.

St Helens, Leigh, York, Doncaster, Middlesbrough and Coventry will also host games in the men’s competition.

Leeds is the most active host city, with Headingley also staging four women’s games.

England’s initial women’s group game will take place at Anfield while York will host both women’s semi finals.

The wheelchair groups will be split between London’s Copper Box Arena and Sheffield’s English Institute of Sport, with the final being held at Liverpool’s M&S Bank Arena.