ENGLAND may head to New Zealand for the 2026 Rugby League World Cup – they want it.
A tendering process is going on to find the southern hemisphere host after France pulled out and the competition was delayed by 12 months.
And SunSport understands the Kiwis have signalled their intent to host it.
They may also link up with Pacific islands like Tonga, Samoa, Fiji and Papua New Guinea – who could all host men’s group games.
New Zealand’s only serious competitor is Australia, which co-hosted the 2017 tournament with its neighbour but had the final.
South Africa expressed an interest previously but the 13-a-side code has no real footprint in that nation.
International Rugby League chiefs have trimmed the men’s World Cup to 10 teams from 16 after being concerned at the number of blowout results last year.
And they revealed 22 expressions of interest from 11 countries have come in for the World Cups – with eight for the women’s version in 2028, five for the wheelchair in 2029 and seven for the men’s in 2030.
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That leaves just two for hosting all three in 2026 but International Rugby League boss Troy Grant insisted: “We made the decision in July that future Men’s, Women’s and Wheelchair World Cups would be staged as standalone events and the level of interest confirms that was the right decision.
“The response to the Invitation to Tender process also underlines the strategic approach behind the decision to reduce the size in order to cultivate more host countries, which will make rugby league a more global sport and the World Cups more accessible events.
“It is one of the many benefits of the international calendar that the IRL is able to schedule three World Cups in three years to provide more countries with an opportunity to host one or more of the game’s flagship tournaments.”