Italy has claimed the 14th and final place in the Rugby League World Cup 2017 (RLWC2017) tournament draw, following their win in the Rugby League European Federation qualifier play-off.
The Italian Azzurri defeated the Russian Bears in Leigh (England) to qualify for their second consecutive Rugby League World Cup – the sport’s pinnacle international event.
RLWC2017 CEO, Andrew Hill, said the confirmation of Italy as the final team completes what is an exciting RLWC2017 line-up.
“I would like to congratulate Italy on their qualification for next year’s Rugby League World Cup.
“The European play-off concludes what was a fantastic 18 months of qualifying matches and the number of teams who competed reflects the growth of the international game.
“The 2017 tournament will feature the greatest rugby league players from across the world all aiming to win what will be the most competitive World Cup ever.
“Fans are in for a real treat and should not delay in securing their tickets for this exciting international event.”
The RLWC2017 will be co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand, with three pool games in Papua New Guinea, from 27 October until 2 December 2017.
The fourteen competing nations are (alphabetical order): Australia, England, Fiji, France, Ireland, Italy, Lebanon, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Scotland, Tonga, USA and Wales
As the play-off winners, Italy will take position “EQ3” in Pool D of the RLWC2017 draw and will play matches in Cairns, Townsville and Canberra.
The 22-man Azzurri squad for the recent European qualifiers featured seven^ players who are currently attached to North Queensland-based teams, along with former Raiders’ great, Terry Campese – so should receive strong support during next year’s tournament.