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Page last updated at 10:32 GMT, Friday, 7 May 2010 11:32 UK

Wales given 2013 World Cup spot

Iestyn Harris helped Wales to the semi-final of two World Cups
Wales have reached two World Cup semi-finals, in 1995 and 2000

Wales have been granted automatic qualification for the 2013 World Cup, which will be hosted by the Rugby Football League in the United Kingdom.

They will be one of 12 sides given spots in an expanded 14-team Cup having been granted full membership by the Rugby League International Federation.

"I'm very pleased with the outcome," said Wales league boss Mark Rowley.

Wales were semi-finalists at the 1995 and 2000 World Cups, but failed to qualify for the 10-team 2008 event.

The RLIF announced in February that the competition would be expanded from 10 teams to 14, with two of the extra sides to come from qualifying tournaments which are likely to be the Pacific Cup and the European Cup.

The other automatic place is likely to go to either Cook Islands, who lost in the final of the 2009 Pacific Cup to Papua New Guinea, or Lebanon, who narrowly missed out on qualification for 2008.

It's more exciting than ever to be part of rugby league in Wales right now

Wales Rugby League executive chairman Mark Rowley

Wales, who are expected to host fixtures in the 2013 Cup, will join the 10 teams who competed in 2008, holders New Zealand, Australia, England, Papua New Guinea, France, Ireland, Scotland, Fiji, Samoa and Tonga.

"This is momentous," said Wales Rugby League executive chairman Rowley after receiving the news at the RLIF two-day meeting in Melbourne.

"We achieved autonomous status in 2006 which was our first major step up the international rugby league ladder.

"It's more exciting than ever to be part of rugby league in Wales right now.

"We have two professional sides for the first time in almost 100 years in Crusaders and South Wales Scorpions, with the Scorpions fielding 99% Welsh-born players.

"Our Conference season in the south kicks off this Sunday in Nelson with a Nines tournament and 13 teams will be taking to the field this season.

"We are soon launching a local league in north Wales for the very first time, while we now have over 150 school teams in Wales.

Wales' team at the Vetch Field, Swansea, in the 1991 World Cup
Wales' team at the Vetch Field, Swansea, in the 1991 World Cup

"Internationally, we are European champions in rugby league at both senior level and under-18 level.

"We are the Home Nations champions at A international and student level, while our students reached the semi-finals of their last World Cup.

"We are now heading towards the 2013 Rugby League World Cup in full confidence, but our next aim is to qualify for the 2011 Four Nations and we take on Ireland, Scotland and France for that right this autumn."

The 2013 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.

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see also
Rugby League World Cup to expand
23 Feb 10 |  Rugby League
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
Rugby League World Cup history
21 Oct 08 |  Rugby League
Welsh convert XIII
10 May 10 |  Rugby League
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales

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