Qualifying for the 2021 World Cup will resume in London during May, it was revealed at the draw for the final European qualifiers later in 2019.
Before a draw that saw qualification equal favourites Ireland arguably placed in a more difficult side of the draw than arch-rivals Scotland, Rugby League European Federation general manager Chris Thair announced Greece would play off with Norway in London on May 18.
The game will be a double header to either a London Broncos or London Skolars match. The Broncos are at home to Wakefield on May 18 while Skolars take on Doncaster.
As top seeds, the Bravehearts and Wolfhounds were kept apart during Wednesday’s draw, conducted at St Helens. Two teams from each of the two groups progress to the World Cup.
Spain were first out of the hat, meaning they will play at home in week one. Then came Italy, grouped with them, and Ireland. Italy have access to more NRL players than Russia, Greece or Norway, suggesting this is a slightly tougher group than the other.
Scotland were fourth out of the hat, meaning they will be at home in week one for the main qualifiers, to take place in October and November next year. Then came the remaining sides, including a ball marked Greece or Norway.
Chairman Keith Hogg said:
We are really looking forward to the 2 World Cup qualifiers next year. It is great for rugby league to have important games like these being played across a wide range of countries. All our players and staff are excited at being part of a new experience for Scotland Rugby League. We know that Russia, Norway and Greece will all provide very determined, passionate and well organised competition so we will need to be at our best
Eleven teams have now qualified for the 2021 World Cup. Four from these qualifiers will join them, leaving one spot from an intercontinental play-off which at this stage looks like pitting the Cook Islands against the United States.
26-27 October: Spain (28) v Ireland (12) / Scotland (8) v Russia (29)
2-3 November: Italy (13) v Spain (28) / Greece (19) or Norway (20) v Scotland (8)
9-10 November: Russia (29) v Greece (19) or Norway (20) / Ireland (12) v Italy (13)