2017 Rugby League World Cup
|Number of teams||14 (22 qualifying)|
|Host countries|| Australia|
Papua New Guinea
|Winner||Australia (11th title)|
|Attendance||382,080 (13,646 per match)|
|Points scored||1264 (45.14 per match)|
|Tries scored||230 (8.21 per match)|
|Top scorer||Cameron Smith (50)|
|Top try scorer||Valentine Holmes (12)|
The 2017 Rugby League World Cup was the fifteenth staging of the Rugby League World Cup tournament and took place in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea between 27 October and 2 December 2017. The tournament featured the national teams of 14 Rugby League International Federation member countries who qualified through either standing in the previous tournament or a series of qualification play-off matches. In the final, defending champions Australia, playing in their 14th consecutive final, defeated England at Brisbane's Lang Park.
At the 2010 Rugby League International Federation executive meeting, the New Zealand Rugby League made an early submission to co-host the 2017 tournament with Australia. The Rugby League World Cup was last held in Australia in 2008.
Two formal bids were subsequently received by the RLIF before a November 2012 deadline; the co-host bid from Australia and New Zealand and a bid from South Africa. On 19 February 2014, it was announced that the joint bid from Australia and New Zealand had won hosting rights.
Michael Brown, the CEO of several big name Australian sporting franchises and the 2015 AFC Asian Cup, was originally appointed CEO of the World Cup in 2015, but resigned less than a year later due to 'workload' and 'homesickness'. He was replaced by Andrew Hill.
It was announced on 3 August 2014 that 7 of the 8 quarter-finalists from the last World Cup would qualify automatically for the 2017 tournament; hosts Australia and New Zealand, plus England, Fiji, France, Samoa and Scotland. The USA, who were also 2013 quarter-finalists, were denied automatic qualification after a long-running internal governance dispute saw their RLIF membership temporarily suspended in 2014; later, once the matter was resolved, they were accepted into the qualification process. Papua New Guinea were initially set to be involved in the qualifying competition but were later granted automatic qualification, due to becoming co-hosts of the tournament. In addition to the eight automatic qualifiers, the remaining six spots will come from four different qualification zones; three from Europe, one from Asia/Pacific, one from Americas and one from Middle East/Africa.
Tonga were the first team to qualify from the qualification stage after winning the Asian-Pacific play-off. Lebanon were the second team to qualify from the qualification stage, after winning the Middle East-African play-off. The USA were the third team to qualify, winning the Americas qualification group.
Best World Cup Result
|Australia||Cameron Smith||Mal Meninga||1||14 (list)||Winners (10 times)||Co-hosts|
|England||Sean O'Loughlin||Wayne Bennett||3||5 (1975, 1995, 2000, 2008, 2013)||Runners-up (1975, 1995); Winners (as part of Great Britain) 3 times||2013 semi-finalists|
|Fiji||Kevin Naiqama||Mick Potter||7||4 (1995, 2000, 2008, 2013)||Semi-finals (2008, 2013)||2013 semi-finalists|
|France||Théo Fages||Aurélien Cologni||6||14 (list)||Runners-up (1954, 1968)||2013 quarter-finalists|
|Ireland||Liam Finn||Mark Aston||8||3 (2000, 2008, 2013)||Quarter-finals (2000, 2008); Winners (as part of Great Britain) 3 times||European qualifying group 2 winner|
|Italy||Mark Minichiello||Cameron Ciraldo||12||1 (2013)||Group stage (2013)||European qualifying play-off winner|
|Lebanon||Robbie Farah||Brad Fittler||18||1 (2000)||Group Stage (2000)||Middle East-Africa play-off winner|
|New Zealand||Adam Blair||David Kidwell||2||14 (list)||Winners (2008)||Co-hosts|
|Papua New Guinea||David Mead||Michael Marum||16||6 (list)||Quarter-finals (2000)||Co-hosts|
|Samoa||Frank Pritchard||Matt Parish||5||4 (1995, 2000, 2008, 2013, 2017)||Quarter-finals (2000, 2013)||2013 quarter-finalists|
|Scotland||Danny Brough||Steve McCormack||4||3 (2000, 2008, 2013)||Quarter-finals (2013); Winners (as part of Great Britain) 3 times||2013 quarter-finalists|
|Tonga||Sika Manu||Kristian Woolf||11||4 (1995, 2000, 2008, 2013)||Group Stage (1995, 2000, 2008, 2013)||Asia-Pacific play-off winner|
|United States||Mark Offerdahl||Brian McDermott||10||1 (2013)||Quarter-finals (2013)||Americas qualifying group winner|
|Wales||Craig Kopczak||John Kear||9||4 (1975, 1995, 2000, 2013)||Semi-finals (1995, 2000); Winners (as part of Great Britain) 3 times||European qualifying group 1 winner|
- Australia: Grant Atkins, Chris Butler, Matt Cecchin, Steve Chiddy, Ben Cummins, Adam Gee, Ashley Klein, Jared Maxwell, David Munro, Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski, Belinda Sleeman, Jon Stone, Bernard Sutton, Chris Sutton, Gerard Sutton, Michael Wise
- England: Phil Bentham, James Child, Mark Craven, Robert Hicks, Chris Kendall, Scott Mikalauskas, Liam Moore, Tim Roby, Ben Thaler
- New Zealand: Chris McMillan, Henry Perenara
Before the World Cup it was announced that France would face Jamaica in Perpignan, England would take on the Combined Affiliated States in Perth, Lebanon would take on Niue in Leichhardt, and Australia, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea would compete in a tri-series in Suva, with each game lasting 40 minutes. The Australian Combined Affiliated States team was composed of players from the Northern Territory, South Australian, Victorian and Western Australian state rugby league competitions. Malta faced Italy at Marconi Stadium in Bossley Park, a suburb of Sydney.
|23 September 2017||Papua New Guinea PM's XIII||8 – 48||Australia PM's XIII||National Football Stadium, Port Moresby|
|8 October 2017||Malta||24 – 24||Italy||Marconi Stadium, Sydney|
|13 October 2017||Country U23s||26 – 40||Samoa||McDonald's Park, Wagga Wagga|
|13 October 2017||France||34 – 12||Jamaica||Stade Gilbert Brutus, Perpignan|
|14 October 2017||Fiji||0 – 10||Papua New Guinea||ANZ National Stadium, Suva|
|14 October 2017||Australia||20 – 4||Papua New Guinea||ANZ National Stadium, Suva|
|14 October 2017||Fiji||0 – 18||Australia||ANZ National Stadium, Suva|
|14 October 2017||Lebanon||32 – 16||Niue||Leichhardt Oval, Sydney|
|20 October 2017||Country U23s||50 – 14||Scotland||Kingsford Smith Park, Ballina|
|20 October 2017||Italy||6 – 16||Tonga||Callendar Park, Innisfail|
|20 October 2017||Combined Affiliated States||12 – 74||England||Perth Oval, Perth|
It was announced in October 2014 that negotiations were being held for Papua New Guinea to host matches. The Papua New Guinea Rugby Football League presented to the RLIF in September 2015, requesting to host three matches. In October 2015 it was confirmed that Papua New Guinea would host three matches in the group stage.
|Brisbane Stadium||Sydney Football Stadium||Melbourne Rectangular Stadium||Townsville Stadium|
|Capacity: 52,500||Capacity: 45,500||Capacity: 30,050||Capacity: 26,500|
|Canberra Stadium||Perth Rectangular Stadium||Barlow Park||Darwin Stadium|
|Capacity: 25,011||Capacity: 20,500||Capacity: 18,000||Capacity: 12,000|
|Wellington Regional Stadium||Mount Smart Stadium|
|Capacity: 34,500||Capacity: 30,000|
|Waikato Stadium||Christchurch Stadium|
|Capacity: 25,800||Capacity: 18,000|
Papua New Guinea
|National Football Stadium|
The draw was undertaken at the launch of the event in Auckland on 19 July 2016 and involved the same four group format as the 2013 tournament. The first two groups are made up of four teams whilst the other two groups feature three teams each. The top three teams in the first two groups and the winners of the two smaller groups will qualify for the quarter-finals. Group play will involve a round robin in the larger groups, and a round robin in the smaller groups with an additional inter-group game for each team so all teams will play three group games.
|Group A||Group B||Group C||Group D|
|Key to colours in pool tables|
|Advances to knockout stage and qualifies for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup|
|27 October 2017||Australia||18 – 4||England||Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, Melbourne|
|29 October 2017||France||18 – 29||Lebanon||Canberra Stadium, Canberra|
|3 November 2017||Australia||52 – 6||France||Canberra Stadium, Canberra|
|4 November 2017||England||29 – 10||Lebanon||Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney|
|11 November 2017||Australia||34 – 0||Lebanon||Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney|
|12 November 2017||England||36 – 6||France||Perth Rectangular Stadium, Perth|
|28 October 2017||New Zealand||38 – 8||Samoa||Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland|
|29 October 2017||Scotland||4 – 50||Tonga||Barlow Park, Cairns|
|4 November 2017||New Zealand||74 – 6||Scotland||Christchurch Stadium, Christchurch|
|4 November 2017||Samoa||18 – 32||Tonga||Waikato Stadium, Hamilton|
|11 November 2017||New Zealand||22 – 28||Tonga||Waikato Stadium, Hamilton|
|11 November 2017||Samoa||14 – 14||Scotland||Barlow Park, Cairns|
|Papua New Guinea||3||3||0||0||128||12||+116||6|
|28 October 2017||Papua New Guinea||50 – 6||Wales||National Football Stadium, Port Moresby,|
|5 November 2017||Papua New Guinea||14 – 6||Ireland||National Football Stadium, Port Moresby|
|12 November 2017||Wales||6 – 34||Ireland||Perth Rectangular Stadium, Perth|
|28 October 2017||Fiji||58 – 12||United States||Townsville Stadium, Townsville|
|5 November 2017||Italy||46 – 0||United States||Townsville Stadium, Townsville|
|10 November 2017||Fiji||38 – 10||Italy||Canberra Stadium, Canberra|
|29 October 2017||Ireland||36 – 12||Italy||Barlow Park, Cairns|
|5 November 2017||Fiji||72 – 6||Wales||Townsville Stadium, Townsville|
|12 November 2017||Papua New Guinea||64 – 0||United States||National Football Stadium, Port Moresby|
Three teams from each of Groups A and B and one team from each of Groups C and D advanced to the quarter-finals. All quarter-finalists automatically qualified for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup. The quarter-final fixture were finalised at the conclusion of the pool stages, to ensure that Australia played in Darwin on 17 November and New Zealand in Wellington on 18 November.
|17 November – Darwin|
|24 November – Brisbane|
|18 November – Wellington|
|2 December – Brisbane|
|18 November – Christchurch|
|25 November – Auckland|
|19 November – Melbourne|
|Papua New Guinea||6|
Australia vs Samoa
|Australia||46 – 0||Samoa|
Holmes (9', 17', 51', 57', 74') 5
Morgan (31', 36') 2
Slater (24') 1
(10', 19', 26', 33', 38', 53', 58')
|1st: 30 – 0
2nd: 16 – 0
Tonga vs Lebanon
|Tonga||24 – 22||Lebanon|
Fusitu'a (19', 33') 2
Lolohea (4') 1
Hopoate (23') 1
(5', 24', 34', 53' pen)
|1st: 22 – 16
2nd: 2 – 6
2 (40', 69') Miski
1 (9') Doueihi
1 (30') Elias
(10', 31', 70')
New Zealand vs Fiji
|New Zealand||2 – 4||Fiji|
|1st: 0 – 2
2nd: 2 – 2
England vs Papua New Guinea
|England||36 – 6||Papua New Guinea|
McGillvary (13', 20') 2
Watkins (68', 72') 2
Walmsley (33') 1
Currie (56') 1
Hall (79') 1
(34', 57', 69', 80')
|1st: 14 – 0
2nd: 22 – 6
1 (60') Lo
Australia vs Fiji
|Australia||54 – 6||Fiji|
Holmes (18', 24', 42', 51', 65', 75') 6
Gagai (31', 69') 2
Slater (14', 48') 2
(15', 19', 33', 43', 49', 53', 67')
|1st: 22 – 2
2nd: 32 – 4
1 (59') Vunivalu
Tonga vs England
|Tonga||18 – 20||England|
Pangai Junior (73') 1
Havili (76') 1
Lolohea (77') 1
(73', 76, 77')
|1st: 0 – 12
2nd: 18 – 8
1 (11') McGillvary
1 (16') Widdop
1 (68') Bateman
(12, 17, 50 pen, 69)
Final: Australia vs England
|Australia||6 – 0||England|
|1st: 6 – 0
2nd: 0 – 0
- Boyd Cordner
- Josh Dugan
- Michael Morgan
- John Bateman
- Gareth Widdop
- Jarryd Hayne
- Marcelo Montoya
- Bastien Ader
- Oliver Roberts
- James Tedesco
- Joseph Tramontana
- Adam Doueihi
- Abbas Miski
- Travis Robinson
- Shaun Johnson
- Jason Nightingale
- Jordan Rapana
- Watson Boas
- Lachlan Lam
- Garry Lo
- Rhyse Martin
- Will Hopoate
- Peni Terepo
- Daniel Tupou
- Tyson Frizell
- Tom Trbojevic
- Matt Gillett
- Tom Burgess
- Ben Currie
- James Graham
- Ryan Hall
- Mark Percival
- Stefan Ratchford
- Alex Walmsley
- Kane Evans
- Salesi Junior Fainga'a
- Joe Lovodua
- Ben Nakubuwai
- Brayden Wiliame
- Akuila Uate
- Eloni Vunakece
- Damien Cardace
- Benjamin Garcia
- Mark Kheirallah
- Kyle Amor
- Liam Finn
- George King
- Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook
- Michael McIlorum
- Michael Morgan
- Api Pewhairangi
- Joe Philbin
- Justin Castellaro
- Mason Cerruto
- Ryan Ghietti
- Josh Mantellato
- Nathan Milone
- Paul Vaughan
- Anthony Layoun
- James Elias
- Nick Kassis
- Mitchell Moses
- Jason Wehbe
- Nelson Asofa-Solomona
- Kenny Bromwich
- Issac Liu
- Kodi Nikorima
- Russell Packer
- Brad Takairangi
- Joseph Tapine
- Elijah Taylor
- Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
- Dean Whare
- Paul Aiton
- Wellington Albert
- James Segeyaro
- Rod Griffin
- Stargroth Amean
- Kato Ottio
- Tim Lafai
- Ken Maumalo
- Joseph Paulo
- Junior Paulo
- Ben Roberts
- Jazz Tevaga
- Young Tonumaipea
- Matthew Wright
- Danny Addy
- Frankie Mariano
- Oscar Thomas
- Lewis Tierney
- Ata Hingano
- Manu Ma'u
- Sika Manu
- Ben Murdoch-Masila
- Jason Taumalolo
- Tevita Pangai Junior
- Siliva Havili
- Matt Shipway
- Junior Vaivai
- Regan Grace
- Morgan Knowles
- Ben Morris
Criticism and controversy
The lack of games in New South Wales, the heartland of rugby league in Australia, drew some criticism. Only one of the 13 confirmed tournament venues was in New South Wales (Sydney Football Stadium) and it is only hosting two group-stage fixtures, both featuring Lebanon. This was due to the refusal of the New South Wales Government to bid for hosting rights. Despite the so-called 'Sydney Cup snub', the RLWC organisers backed their decision and the venues they were using.
In the buildup to the Samoa vs. Tonga game in Hamilton, controversy occurred after fans from both countries were caught having brawls in South Auckland. At least 6 people were arrested from the brawls resulting in a massive security increase for the game. Both teams, celebrities, and police urged fans to calm down. Following the results of the controversial incident, a Tongan Advisory Council member lashed out at organisers, saying that this tournament is poorly organised compared to the 2011 Rugby World Cup, mentioning that Rugby World Cup organisers engaged with community groups 18 months beforehand, whereas this tournament was "scrambled around".
After Scotland's 68-point thrashing to New Zealand in Christchurch, captain Danny Brough, Sam Brooks, and Jonathan Walker were sent home for violating code of conduct after being all deemed too 'intoxicated' for their team's flight to Cairns for Scotland's next game against Samoa. Italian players James Tedesco and Shannon Wakeman were under investigation by the World Cup integrity unit for a brawl at a Cairns nightclub.
There was criticism on how Samoa and Lebanon qualified for the Quarter-Finals of the World Cup, while Ireland missed out. Samoa played in Pool B where three sides qualify for the finals and only one misses out. Samoa lost to both New Zealand and Tonga, and drew with Scotland. Lebanon was in Pool A which had the same format as Pool B. Lebanon lost to both Australia and England and beat France. Ireland played in Pool C where there are only three teams and the winner is the only team that goes to the finals. Ireland beat both Italy and Wales and only just lost to Papua New Guinea and didn't qualify for the finals. Irish captain Liam Finn, said "I don't know if it's unfair, it probably makes sense, but to me: try and explain that to someone who's not rugby league," , "That's how we judge it. I tell someone 'we didn't go through, we won two games; someone got through by drawing one," and "That's where we should be focused: how do we attract new fans when that's how you're explaining the game to them?" in the press conference after his teams victory over Wales.
|Country or region||Broadcaster||Broadcasting||Ref.|
|Australia||Seven Network||All 28 matches live (via Channel 7, 7mate, or streamed from the 7Live app)|||
|6 matches live (ProSieben Maxx)
All 28 matches live streamed (ran.de)
|Germany||Sportdeutschland.TV||All 28 matches live streamed|||
|Fiji||Fiji One||All 28 matches live|||
|France||beIN Sports||All 28 matches live|||
|Hong Kong||PCCW||All 28 matches live|||
|Ireland||eir Sports||All 28 matches live|||
|Japan||DAZN||All 28 matches live|||
|Malaysia||Astro||All 28 matches live|||
|Middle East||OSN Sports||All 28 matches live|||
|New Zealand||Sky Sport||All 28 matches live|||
|Papua New Guinea||EM TV||All 28 matches live|||
|United Kingdom||BBC Sport||All England matches live; Ireland, Wales and Scotland matches delayed; highlights from all 28 matches|||
|Premier Sports||27 matches Live (Delayed coverage of NZ vs Tonga due to football match)|||
|United States||Fox Sports||All USA matches and knockout matches live|||
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