Wheelchair officials present a brave face after World Cup disappointment

The news that this year’s World Cups – men’s, women’s and wheelchair tournaments – have been postponed for twelve months will have surprised no one, after RLWC2021 organisers were placed in an impossible position by the withdrawals of Australia and New Zealand.

With the BBC due to televise the Wheelchair World Cup, there would have been unprecedented exposure for this form of Rugby League.

England Wheelchair Manager Martin Coyd OBE, however, prefers to view the news as an opportunity rather than as a setback.

He said: “It’s disappointing, of course, but not unexpected. I did my grieving for the 2021 World Cup a few weeks ago.

“England’s players and coaches have worked incredibly hard, all the way through lockdown, ahead of an anticipated 2021 World Cup. They’ve focused on so many things, from the psychological aspects to nutrition, sleep, strength and conditioning strategies, from intensive skills work and simply throwing a ball to girlfriends, boyfriends, mums and dads in the park.

“I am sure there will be positives to come out of this, and our glass is half-full. The World Cup is still taking place, it’s just twelve months later, and we now have an opportunity for some serious Test match action this autumn.

“So Wheelchair Rugby League will end up with a great opportunity, with international Test matches hopefully taking place this year, followed by the World Cup in 2022. The players and the sport deserve that; it would certainly be a good way of making this the best World Cup to date.”

Wales Wheelchair head coach Stephen Jones said: “Understandably today’s confirmation that RLWC2021 has been postponed until next year is devastating news for players and staff. We have been looking forward and building towards this tournament, and with some of the players having to bend over backwards with employers to secure the time off, it has been a bitter pill to swallow.

He concluded: “However, the silver lining is that the squad now has a bit longer to prepare. All those involved are now hoping that we can hold some form of competition at the end of the year to help with the disappointment this decision has caused.”

Ollie Cruickshank, the Operations Director of Scotland Rugby League, added: “Obviously we are disappointed the RLWC won’t be going ahead as planned, as a lot of time and effort has been put in by the players, coaching staff and support team to get to a position where we could select a squad to represent Scotland.

“We understand that the RLWC board did everything they could to get the tournament to go ahead, but sometimes these things don’t always work out.

“On a positive note, however, our coaches Mark Roughsedge and Dave Abel now have another twelve months to work with the extended squad, to build up to the rescheduled World Cup.”

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