Seven European nations will learn their next step for the Women’s Rugby League World Cup Qualifiers tomorrow (Wednesday) when the draw for the group stage of the competition takes place. It will be broadcast live on European Rugby League’s Facebook page at 13.30hrs (UK).
The draw will determine the make-up of two groups of three, with the winner of each group qualifying for the 2026 Rugby League World Cup. As the two lowest seeds, Italy and Netherlands will play a preliminary knock out game in April beforehand.
The nations have been seeded using the December 2023 IRL World Rankings, with one team from each level to be drawn to each group.
The seeds are as follows:
Seed 1 – France and Wales
Seed 2 – Greece and Ireland
Seed 3 – Serbia and Italy / Netherlands
The three rounds of matches will take place in April, May and June 2024, with fixtures to be confirmed following the draw.
The two teams finishing in second place in the group stage will meet in a final play-off match in October, with the winner progressing to the 2025 World Series, where the final place for the tournament will be determined.
As a semi-finalist at the last World Cup, England are automatically qualified for the 2026 competition.
The draw will be made by David Butler, general manager of ERL and Andrea Dobson, the former England women’s international, who made 27 appearances for England and Great Britain across a career which included appearances at the 2003, 2008, 2013 and 2017 Rugby League World Cups, at the latter of which she captained the side.
“To have seven nations vying for qualification shows the huge steps forward the women’s game has taken in Europe in recent years” commented Butler. “The first Women’s Euro B competition ran in 2022, giving several of these teams their first taste of competitive action and, coupled with the bilateral internationals played in 2023, the level of interest in this qualifying tournament, and in the women’s game, is higher than ever. We are all very much looking forward to the draw as the competition comes to life.”
The European Rugby League Facebook page can be found at www.facebook.com/eurorugbyleague