RLWC2017 European Qualifiers, Pool B preview

Russia, Spain and Ireland have begun preparations for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup, Pool B European Qualifiers.  Having made the quarter-finals in the last three World Cup tournaments, Ireland will start as favourites, whilst Spain are looking to progress for the first time, and the Russians were last involved in the year 2000.

Denis Korolev, Executive Director of the RussianRugby League Federation commented:“It is a great honour to take part in such a high level competition as the Qualifiers. We understand the importance and responsibility and we will do our best. We are very much looking forward to hosting Spain when they come to visit. I hope all the nations taking part in this exciting series of games will have a great time and wish everyone good luck!”

For the fledging Spanish it is something of a step into the unknown.  “These matches are exciting times for Spanish rugby league,” said their national team manager, Matt Dulley. “We have grown a lot in the last few years and our national squad improves with every game. But going to the World Cup would be a massive step forward which makes this Qualifier series an extremely important opportunity for us to make the sport here even more popular, by giving us the publicity we need.”

Ireland director Richard Egan is also expecting the Qualifiers to boost the game’s profile in the Emerald Isle. “In the build-up to these Qualifiers,” he said, “we have continued to play other developing nations to give our domestic players a chance to increase their international experience. Participation in these World Cup Qualifiers is key. It will give us a chance to get even more players involved, and though the prize is a place in RLWC2017 the real goal is to have more people in our country playing rugby league.”

“This year we have run an Ireland U16 side for the first time,” Egan added. “We have also continued the development of our U19’s and students, and these players look to the World Cup as the pinnacle of what they can achieve. With Spain and Russia relatively unknown to us, we are not sure how their squads will be made up, but we are expecting to face tough games, and a lot of passionate desire to make it to the southern hemisphere.”


15 October 2016 – Russia v Spain, Fili Stadium, Moscow

22 October 2016 – Spain v Ireland, Polideportivo Quatre Carrares, Valencia

29 October 206 – Ireland v Russia, Carlisle Grounds, Bray