Rugby League: Kiwis, Kiwi Ferns learn opponents for 2021 World Cup

New Zealand's mens' have been drawn alongside Lebanon, Ireland and Jamaica in Group C.
New Zealand's mens' have been drawn alongside Lebanon, Ireland and Jamaica in Group C. Photo credit: Photosport

The Kiwis and Kiwi Ferns have learned their opponents for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup in England, in a draw conducted by Prince Harry at Buckingham Palace. 

New Zealand men have drawn Lebanon, Ireland and Jamaica in Group C, while the women face Australia, France and the Cook Islands in their pool. 

The draw was the first public appearance for Rugby Football League patron Prince Harry since stepping away from senior royal duties.

The Kiwis' biggest challenge will come from Lebanon, who were quarter-finalists alongside New Zealand at the 2017 World Cup. 

Their only previous meeting came at the 2000 World Cup, where the Kiwis won 64-0. New Zealand have never faced Ireland or Jamaica in a test. 

Ireland will compete in their fourth World Cup, while Jamaica will attend their first.

New Zealand are currently top of the rankings, with Lebanon 10th, Ireland 12th and Jamaica 20th. 

Hosts England have been drawn Samoa, France and newcomers Greece, while Tonga, Papua New Guinea, Wales and the Cook Islands form Group D.

Prince Harry at the Rugby League World Cup draw.
Prince Harry at the Rugby League World Cup draw. Photo credit: Reuters

Defending champions Australia have been drawn alongside Fiji, Scotland and Italy. 

Fixtures dates for the tournament have yet to be announced, but English Premier League football grounds like Old Trafford (Manchester United), Anfield (Liverpool), Emirates Stadium (Arsenal) are among the 18 venues being used.

For the first time, the women's event will run concurrently with the men, with the Kiwi Ferns taking on defending champion Jillaroos in a mouthwatering group clash. 

Australia have won the last two World Cups, beating New Zealand in both finals, but the Kiwi Ferns won the previous three tournaments.

England, Papua New Guinea, Canada and Brazil make up the other group in the women's draw. 

In the wheelchair tournament, which will also run simultaneously, England, Australia, Spain, Norway are drawn in Group A, with France, Wales, Scotland and USA in Group B.

Men's draw

  • Group A: England, Samoa, France, Greece
  • Group B: Australia, Fiji, Scotland, Italy
  • Group C: New Zealand, Lebanon, Jamaica, Ireland
  • Group D: Tonga, Papua New Guinea, Wales, Cook Islands

Women's draw

  • Group A: England, Papua New Guinea, Canada, Brazil
  • Group B: Australia, New Zealand, France, Cook Islands

Wheelchair draw

  • Group A: England, Australia, Spain, Norway
  • Group B: France, Wales, Scotland, USA