RLWC2021: Sam Tomkins of England asks for ‘unusual time’ for Australian and New Zealand withdrawal | Rugby League News

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  RLWC2021: Sam Tomkins of England asks for 'unusual time' for Australian and New Zealand withdrawal |  Rugby League News

Last Updated: 22/07/21 7:08pm

England international Sam Tomkins says Australia and New Zealand’s decision to pull out of the Rugby League World Cup has come at a strange time, with the tournament not due to start until late October

Sam Tomkins has questioned the timing of Australia and New Zealand’s decision to withdraw from competing at this year’s Rugby League World Cup.

England international Sam Tomkins says Australia and New Zealand’s decision to pull out of the Rugby League World Cup has come at a strange time, with the tournament not due to start until late October

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  • By Marc Bazeley

  • 0:24

Reigning champions Australia and 2008 winners New Zealand issued a joint statement on Thursday announcing they would be not be playing at the tournament, which is due to kick off on October 23 and sees the men’s, women’s and wheelchair events being played alongside each other, due to concerns over Covid-19.

News of the withdrawals came barely a week after organisers confirmed RLWC2021 was going ahead as planned and, speaking to Sky Sports News, England international Tomkins questioned why this decision had been taken with three months still to go before the start of the World Cup.

“It wasn’t too long ago we were promoting it and saying it was definitely on, and I know that gave a huge boost to a lot of people,” Tomkins, captain for England’s recent match against the Combined Nations All Stars, said. “It seems a little bit strange timing, really. Tomkins has spoken out on Australia and New Zealand’s RLWC2021 withdrawals

“The Covid situation is changing all the time and to decide in July they’re not coming in a few months’ time seems strange, especially when other athletes from those countries are coming for other sports.” This year’s World Cup coincides with when the Australia rugby union team are due to be touring the UK for Test matches against England, Wales and Scotland, while New Zealand are due to face Ireland, Wales and France this autumn too.

Both nations have sent hundreds of athletes to the Olympic Games in Tokyo too, with those now taking place behind closed doors due to concerns over rising numbers of Covid-19 cases in Japan. Australia, NZ branded ‘selfish’ after World Cup withdrawal

“The organisers have done everything possible to provide both nations with strong evidence of the robust protocols and procedures to keep players safe,” Davy said in a statement. 1:12 Former Great Britain and England international Phil Clarke says he feels disappointed but not surprised that Australia and New Zealand have pulled out of the Rugby League World Cup due to coronavirus concerns

Meanwhile, Betfred Super League interim chairman Ken Davy has reiterated the competition’s support for this year’s Rugby League World Cup, expressing his surprise and sadness at the decision from two of the sport’s powerhouse nations. Australia and New Zealand have been branded “selfish, parochial and cowardly” over their decision to pull out of the Rugby League World Cup due to coronavirus concerns.