World Cup organisers refuse to blink

Rugby League World Cup 2021 chief executive Jon Dutton insists there are no plans to delay next year’s tournament, but he admits that his team may have to make some changes in the future.
Dutton gave a media briefing last week to outline the current plans for the competition, including when tickets would go on sale and a schedule release date.
Both of those have been put on hold due to the Coronavirus outbreak, although Dutton said there had been no discussions to call off the tournament at this stage.
“Quite simply, no,” was his response to the question
“No plans to move the tournament. I don’t believe it is feasible that the tournament could move back twelve months.
“It’s a very fluid situation, and we’ve seen the Olympics and Euro 2020 moved and there are of course uncertainties about our domestic leagues, both Super League and NRL.
“But we have time on our side; we’ve done a lot of planning, and there may be environmental factors that affect us in future, but at the moment it is business as usual.”
The most obvious issue is the revised schedules of both Super League and the NRL. With both competitions on lockdown, there will be a backlog of fixtures that could result in the current season being extended.
Should that happen, there is a strong possibility that the 2021 campaigns will start later than usual too. As it stands, there is just a two-week gap between the scheduled date for the 2021 Grand Final and the World Cup opener between England and Samoa at St James’ Park.
With the NRL also bringing in $13 million a week through their TV deal, their priority will almost certainly be to fulfil their broadcast obligations, rather than participate in the World Cup.
Dutton admits that the domestic schedule could be a challenge for the competition, but that it was too early to comment, given the uncertainty around the length of the lockdown.
“The World Cup has to be played in October and November, so any delay to the seasons would clearly impact it, so we’re keeping a watching brief,” he said.
“We’ve started some very early conversations to map out what would be feasible in the remaining weeks that we have in 2021. Clearly there’s a player welfare issue to consider and a discussion with the players’ union about players having an appropriate break. That’s why it is important there isn’t a major disruption to the 2021 season and of course it’s too early to know whether that will happen or not at this stage.
“We haven’t been in touch directly with the NRL, but I’m communicating with Ralph Rimmer on a regular basis and I know he’s speaking to Todd Greenberg. Clearly, it’s not just about Australia, it’s about the athletes across many nations. We estimate that perhaps as many as two-thirds of the men’s athletes will come from the NRL competition, so it’s going to be really important in the coming weeks that we take our time to understand the situation and what plans will be put in place for the 2021 season. Clearly we can’t do that now until there is more certainty about 2020.
“We have time on our side, so we’ll be patient and continue our contingency planning.”
On June 10th, 500 days before the tournament opener between England and Samoa, the team bases for all 21 nations will be involved.
Between then and September, the scheduled dates and venues for all three tournaments will be revealed, plus an announcement on ticket tiers and prices.
In September, RLWC officials say tickets will go on pre-sale to supporters and corporate partners.
On 23 October 2020, a year before the World Cup opener, tickets will be made available on a public ballot for the first time, with fans able to request tickets for as many games as they wish until November 27th, with results revealed on December. Remaining tickets will go on general sale in early 2021.
Meanwhile, the tournament will provide 20,021 free tickets to key workers in the UK as thanks for their efforts during the COVID-19 outbreak.