The draw for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup was held today at Buckingham Palace with HRH, The Duke of Sussex presiding , also and involving Dame Katherine Granger and Jason Robinson (OBE).

There are just 645 days until the start of the competition on the Friday 26th October 2021 with the Men’s, Women’s and Wheelchair competitions all being hosted across English Stadia. It will be the largest ever World Cup and will create massive interest amongst die-hards and casual supporters and hopefully will be 'Inspiration All'.

Teams can now begin their preparation, ahead of the announcement of the venues and timings for the games and the organisers can make a start on publicity and ticket sales.

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Everything that is great about our fantastic sport was on show at Emerald Headingley on Sunday aftenoon as the rugby league community came together in support of Rob Burrow and Jamie Jones-Buchanan.

 

The ‘Full House’ notices were on display, unprecedented for a pre-season friendly, for the fundraiser for the former Rhinos star who was recently diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease. SKY Sports gave their time for free to bring the event into the homes of a wider audience.

 

Former stars if both clubs also gave of their time and pulled on their boots for one final time to join Rob on the field for the closing minutes in an electric and emotional atmosphere in an act of brotherhood.

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The Great Britain Lions were looking to restore a modicum of pride at the end of a disastrous tour as they travellled to the rugby league cauldron of Port Moresby to take on a determined Papua New Guinea side who were intent on sending the Lions home on the back of a four game whitewash.

Papua New Guinea are currently ranked as the tenth best in the world, behind Scotland and Lebanon, this match was scheduled to be a gentle wind down and bridge building exercise at the end of the tour. The Kumuls would have different ideas, wanting to compound the Lions misery in front of a sell out, fervent, home crowd.

Despite a late afternoon kick-off the temperatures were still high and the Lions would have to cope with high humidity and the noisiest of partisan stadiums.

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The Lions Tour of Oceania was in danger of turning into a whitewash after last weekends 12-8 loss to New Zealand. This week the rugby league world turned its eyes to Christchurch for the second contest with the Kiwis, the Lions desperate for the win to regain some pride.

Great Britain lost the services of  Ryan Hall and Zak Hardaker with Blake Austin being selected on the wing by coach Bennett. Shaun Johnson was recalled for the Kiwi’s after being dropped for last weeks match and was certain to be looking to prove a point.

Conditions were oppressively hot at the OrangeTheory Stadium as the sides took the field for another bruising encounter.

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After defeats last weekends both the GB Lions and New Zealand were looking for a victory in the first of two tests between the two sides as the rugby league world cast its eyes to Eden Park in Auckland.

Both coaches made some changes after last week with the Lions promoting Jonny Lomax at full back and Tom Burgess at prop, while Michael McGuire shocked the home support by dropping creative half back Shaun Johnson.

The last time that the two sides met was in late 2007 when GB secured a three match whitewash on home soil, the only survivor from that last game, a 28-22 win in Wigan, being Lions skipper James Graham.

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Nothing sets the pulse of a rugby league fan racing like a Great Britain Lions Tour down under, and after a twelve year absence the Lions opened their four match odyssey with a visit to the FMG Stadium Waikato in Hamilton City, New Zealand, to take on a Tongan Invitational XIII.

There was only one survivor in the GB squad from the side which whitewashed New Zealand in 2007, the skipper James Graham who had been a substitute in Tony Smith’s side in all three matches during the last UK test series.

There was a strong and passionate Tongan support in Hamilton for the game (despite the recent issues and some requests for Tongan supporters to stay away), a good contingent of tourist supporters who had made the long trip, and plenty of neutrals who were getting a look at the Lions side ahead of the two match series against New Zealand.

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This was the night. The culmination of a year’s rugby league encapsulated in eighty minutes as the nailed-on favourites, almost since anyone can remember in 2019, took on the suprrise package, the Salford Red Devils at the theatre of dreams.

Everyone except the Saints fans were ‘Salford for a day’ as the fans from just down the road and all of the neutrals at this grandest of occasions, opened their vocal chords in support of the underdogs.

Salford had earned their Grand Final berth as justifiably as the Saints with defeats of Castleford and Wigan on the road to their first ever Grand Final appearance and they were there to enjoy themselves but also to spring one of the biggest surprises in Super League history and become the fifth name on the famous trophy.

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It was the League Leaders versus the Challenge Cup winners at the Totally Wicked Stadium as Grand Final glory was up for grabs in the Betfred Women’s Super League. Castleford were unchanged from their semi-final victory over Wigan while the Rhinos were forced into a change when Shannon Lacey was ruled out with a head injury picked up in their dramatic win at the same venue against Saints five days earlier.
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A place in the Betfred Championship would be decided over eighty minutes of frenetic action at the Vestacare Stadium. Oldham and Newcastle went into battle with the home side the favourites by virtue of their higher league place in the regular season.

Oldham were unchanged from the side which defeated Doncaster a fortnight ago. Thunder made just one change from the side which beat Doncaster last weekend to set up todays clash with Carne Doyle-Magna named on the bench in place of Alex Rowe, who broke his arm in that semi-final.

It’s been honours shared in 2019, and there was just one point between them on the league ladder, with close encounters giving little indication of who may emerge victorious ahead of the clash.

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There was much  more than passing British interest in the 2019 Australian NRL Grand Final as three former greats of Super League; John Bateman, Elliott Whitehead and Josh Hodgson were looking to win the ultimate prize wearing the lime green of the Raiders.

These two sides finished second and fourth during the regular season with both sides beating the side one place above them in last weekends semi-finals.

The Roosters were looking to retain their title, and were the favourites with the bookies for the win at the ANZ Stadium, fifteen miles up the road from their base in the eastern suburbs. But the Grand Final is a strange beast and the Canberra supporters who’d made the 170 mile trip north were full of hope and expectation that they would win their first grand final since 1994.

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