Rugby Union World Cup chiefs hope Australia will be among Covid fears

LONDON: Rugby Union World Cup organizers are trying to persuade NRL clubs and players to enter the tournament amid fears of a new wave of coronavirus cases in Britain.

Officials are ready to confirm this week that the tournament will go ahead as planned later this year.

However, several clubs in the NRL are concerned about the health of players as the Covid-19 spike continues on the eve of the July 19 removal of virus restrictions in the UK.

Half of the 16 nations will travel from the southern hemisphere, most of them belonging to NRL clubs, leaving them with the prospect of having to go into quarantine when they return home in late November.

Lobbying the NRL included a video post in which World Cup general manager Jon Dutton said: “I fully understand the current challenges you are facing.

“The pandemic has only brought challenges for all of us to navigate.

“We will be hosting the tournament this year as planned. It is imperative that we provide the possible security environment for players and staff.

“We fully appreciate and respect it will be the players’ choice if they get on the plane and come to England. We are committed to providing a number of biosecurity measures.

“The mandatory return of the 14-day quarantine to Australia is the most difficult challenge of all.”

World Cup organizers are believed to have agreed to foot the bill for charter flights to bring around 400 players and officials from Australia.

Teams will be able to nominate larger teams with provisions to recruit players for late withdrawals.

Australian Rugby League President Peter V’landys has confirmed that the committee has yet to give the green light for Australia to participate.

World Cup officials have pointed to the recent successes of Euro 2020 and Wimbledon as proof that England can safely host world tournaments. -AFP

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