2021 Rugby League World Cup qualifying
The 2021 Rugby League World Cup qualifying process began in June 2018 with the commencement of the 2018 Rugby League European Championship C tournament. Of the 16 nations that will compete in the World Cup, eight were granted automatic qualification, having reached the quarter finals of the 2017 World Cup. The remaining eight places were decided through a qualifying process.
|Dates||June 2018 – November 2019|
|Teams||29 (from 4 confederations)|
|Previous best result||World|
|Asia-Pacific||Australia||Automatic||15||Champions (1957, 1968, 1970, 1975, 1977, 1985–88, 1989–92, 1995, 2000, 2013, 2017)||2|
|Cook Islands||Repechage play-off||2||Group stages (2000, 2013)||23|
|Fiji||Automatic||5||Semi-finals (2008, 2013, 2017)||5|
|New Zealand||Automatic||15||Champions (2008)||1|
|Papua New Guinea||Automatic||7||Quarter-finals (2000, 2017)||6|
|Samoa||Automatic||5||Quarter-finals (2000, 2013, 2017)||7|
|Europe||England[a]||Hosts||6||Runners-up (1975, 1995, 2017)||3|
|France||European winners||15||Runners-up (1954, 1968)||8|
|Wales[a]||European runners-up||5||Semi-finals (1995, 2000)||14|
|Scotland[a]||Europe play-off 1||4||Quarter-finals (2013)||9|
|Ireland[a]||Europe play-off 2||4||Quarter-finals (2000, 2008)||12|
|Greece||Europe play-off 3||0||Debut||11|
|Italy||Europe play-off 4||2||Group stages (2013, 2017)||13|
|Middle East-Africa||Lebanon||Automatic||2||Quarter-finals (2017)||10|
- Competed as part of Great Britain in nine previous tournaments, finishing as champions on three occasions (1954, 1960, 1972). The squads largely consisted of English players, but also featured Welsh players in every tournament. Scotland (1954, 1968, 1977, 1989–92) and Ireland (1957) were represented by native-born players in some tournaments.
In October 2016, England was announced as the host the tournament, granting them automatic qualification.
In March 2017, the RLIF confirmed that the 8 quarter-finalists from the 2017 World Cup would receive automatic qualification to the 2021 tournament, along with details of how many slots each region will be allocated: "Seven teams will be qualified from Europe, six from the Asia-Pacific, two from the Americas, and one from a play-off series hosted in Middle East/Africa." Because Lebanon gained automatic qualification, a repechage play-off between the 2nd placed Middle East/Africa team (behind Lebanon), 2nd placed Americas team (behind the Americas qualifying team), and the 7th placed Asia-Pacific team (behind the 6 auto qualifiers) will take place instead of qualifying 2 Americas teams.
England are the only European team to have been guaranteed qualification, with France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland, and Wales all failing to reach the quarter finals of the 2017 World Cup. With the World Cup expanding to 16 teams in 2021, one extra European slot is available in comparison to the 2017 tournament.
While the elite division of the 2018 European Rugby League Championship will see the top two teams qualify directly for the World Cup, the other European places will be decided in a play-off containing team from each level of the Championship.
The 2018 European Championship C will progress 1 team to the European play-off, the winner of the Championship C final between Norway and Greece. The 2018 European Championship B will progress 2 teams to the European play-off, Russia and Spain. These three teams will be joined by Italy, and the third and fourth place teams from the elite division.
|1||France||3||3||0||0||106||38||+68||6||2021 World Cup|
|27 October 2018||Ireland||36−10||Scotland||Morton Stadium, Santry|
|27 October 2018||France||54−18||Wales||Stade Albert Domec, Carcassonne|
|2 November 2018||Scotland||12−50||Wales||Netherdale, Galashiels|
|3 November 2018||Ireland||10−24||France||Morton Stadium, Santry|
|10 November 2018||France||28−10||Scotland||Stade Albert Domec, Carcassonne|
|11 November 2018||Wales||40−8||Ireland||Racecourse Ground, Wrexham|
The European play-off tournament will qualify four teams to the World Cup. It is scheduled for October and November 2019 and will consist of:
The six teams will be split into two round-robin pools. The winners and runner-up in each pool will qualify for the 2021 World Cup. There will be no European qualification to the intercontinental play-off.
|1||Ireland||2||2||0||0||67||12||+55||4||Qualified for World Cup|
|26 October 2019||Spain||8–42||Ireland||Xàtiva|
|2 November 2019||Italy||34–4||Spain||Lignano Sabbiadoro|
|9 November 2019||Ireland||25–4||Italy||Santry|
|1||Scotland||2||2||0||0||128||24||+104||4||Qualified for World Cup|
|26 October 2019||Scotland||86–0||Serbia||Glasgow|
|1 November 2019||Greece||24–42||Scotland||London|
|9 November 2019||Serbia||6–82||Greece||Belgrade|
The Americas group comprised four teams and was played as a single elimination knock-out tournament. Jamaica won the group beating Canada in the first round and then United States in the final. United States qualified for the intercontinental play-off by finishing as the runner-up of the tournament.
|13 November 2018||Canada||8–38||Jamaica||Hodges Stadium, Jacksonville|
|13 November 2018||United States||62–0||Chile||Hodges Stadium, Jacksonville|
|17 November 2018||Jamaica||16–10||United States||Hodges Stadium, Jacksonville|
The intercontinental play-off will consist of the Americas championship runner up (United States), 7th highest ranked Asia-Pacific team (Cook Islands), and the 2nd highest ranked Middle East-Africa team (South Africa).
|21 June 2019||Cook Islands||66−6||South Africa||Ringrose Park, Sydney|
|16 November 2019||United States||16–38||Cook Islands||Hodges Stadium, Jacksonville|
- "England to host RLWC2021 - North America recommended for RLWC2025". RLIF. 27 October 2016. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- "Statement from the RLIF Board meeting - March 28th 2017". RLIF. 29 March 2017. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- "RLIF - Competitions". RLIF. Retrieved 29 August 2018.
It is open to all full and affiliate members of the RLIF.
- "The Road to the 2021 Rugby League World Cup Begins in Vrchlabi". Rugby League International Federation. 26 March 2018. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- "World Cup qualification up for grabs this autumn as Wales face France, Ireland and Scotland in European Championship". Wales Rugby League. 9 May 2018. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
- "Next steps on road to World Cup 2021 revealed for Europe & Americas". Asia Pacific RL. 9 May 2018. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
- Caplan, Phil (25 August 2019). "Serbia replace Russia in Rugby League World Cup qualifiers" (Press release). Rugby League European Federation. Retrieved 25 August 2019.
- "Rugby League World Cup: Jamaica reach tournament for first time". BBC Sport. 17 November 2018.