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Page last updated at 11:25 GMT, Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Rugby League World Cup in 2013 will expand to 14 teams

New Zealand with the World Cup
New Zealand beat hosts Australia 34-20 to win the World Cup in 2008

International rugby league chiefs have given the go-ahead to expand the World Cup to 14 teams in 2013.

Only 10 teams contested the last tournament in Australia in 2008 and drew huge crowds and a large worldwide television audience.

That compared to the 16-team event in 2000, which produced a host of mismatches and made a financial loss.

Twelve teams will be automatically entered for the 2013 World Cup, to be held in the UK, with two qualifying.

Details of the qualifying system will be revealed later this year but Wales, twice semi-finalists in the past, look certain to join the 10 teams who took part in 2008 and Lebanon will be hoping to secure the other automatic spot.

The tournament will be the first rugby league World Cup to be held in the UK since 2000, which was hampered by bad weather, attracted poor attendances and left the Rugby Football League in debt.

And organisers are likely to once more seed the major nations in order to avoid the lopsided scorelines that featured in 2000.

In 2008, England, Australia and New Zealand were all placed in one 'super' pool, alongside Papua New Guinea, with the rest of the nations left to fight it out for one semi-final place.


The 2008 event in Australia was a success, attracting combined crowds of 290,000 and a global television audience of 19.2m, making it the most widely broadcast event in the sport's history.

Initial proposals by the RFL for a 14-team tournament were met with opposition.

But delegates at Tuesday's Rugby League International Federation meeting in Singapore were impressed by their business plan.

"We are delighted to have ratified this proposal for a 14-nation rugby league World Cup, which was unanimously supported by RLIF delegates," said RLIF chairman Colin Love.

"This year will see the Four Nations in Australia and New Zealand build on the success of the 2008 rugby World Cup and 2009 Four Nations and going forward I am confident that in 2013 we will see a tournament that will successfully showcase international rugby league to a worldwide audience.

"The format reflects rugby league's increased participation around the world and provides a wonderful opportunity for the finest athletes in any sport to prove themselves on the greatest stage of all."

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see also
World Cup set for 12-team format
01 Aug 09 |  Rugby League
UK to host Rugby League World Cup
28 Jul 09 |  Rugby League
Wales targets RL World Cup games
28 Jul 09 |  Rugby League
Australia 20-34 New Zealand
22 Nov 08 |  Rugby League
When Great Britain won the World Cup
22 Oct 08 |  Rugby League
Rugby League World Cup history
21 Oct 08 |  Rugby League
World Cup set for 10-team format
25 Nov 05 |  International
Curtain falls on World Cup
25 Nov 00 |  World Cup 2000
Sport's unlucky thirteen
20 Nov 00 |  World Cup 2000
Rugby league's rollercoaster ride
24 Nov 00 |  World Cup 2000

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