The rest of this year is looking more and more like being slim pickings for teams in the Americas following the decision by the International Rugby League (IRL) to postpone the 2025 Rugby League World Cup.
The United States, Canada, Jamaica and Brazil were due to play off this northern autumn in the Americas region qualifying series for #rlwc2025 but the IRL’s decision to push the World Cup back to 2026 has put the kybosh on that.
The qualifiers were also set to double as the Rugby League Americas Championship as they have sometimes done in the past. The last time there was a stand-alone Americas Championship was in 2017 in the lead up to the World Cup that same year.
What the IRL move means for the four Americas countries is that they are now left with the job of trying to line up games, if they can.
USA Hawks head coach Sean Rutgerson says there aren’t too many options at this late stage.
“Really disappointed about the qualifiers,” he tells Rugby League Planet.
“We plan to play Jamaica anyway over there and also trying to get a game against Canada. I’m sure all the guys are really looking forward to that.”
And it is much the same for Canada with Wolverines head coach Aaron Zimmerle saying there are one or two possibilities.
“I’m just waiting to hear from our board what was Plan B,” he says.
“There is some chat of playing the USA in October, possibly in Canada. Other than that, qualifiers are now in 2024.”
As for the Reggae Warriors, Rugby League Jamaica vice-chairman Adrian Hall says they are trying to lock in games against either their fellow Americas teams, and/or possibly teams in Europe.
And as far as Brazil is concerned, according to posts on social media by @BrasilRugbyXIII, they are also disappointed by the move saying they feel that they have been left high and dry by the decision to postpone the 2025 Rugby League World Cup.
The number of teams to compete in the men’s World Cup in 2026 has been cut to ten, and of those, eight will be the top eight on the IRL’s international rankings. The other two will come from a new World Series which is set to come into play as part of future World Cups.
IRL chairman Troy Grant says regional championships will be used as qualifying series.
He says the Americas, European, Asia-Pacific and Middle East Africa (MEA) tournaments will all lead into a World Series which will be used as qualifiers for the remaining two teams to advance to the World Cup.
So, the four Americas teams will have the chance to playoff against each other with the winners moving on to the World Series and a chance to qualify for the Rugby League World Cup.