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Sport Kangaroos, Kiwis call for year-ending Tests despite World Cup boycott

10:53  23 july  2021
10:53  23 july  2021 Source:   smh.com.au

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Kiwis plan Tests against Tonga and Kangaroos before World Cup . New Zealand are preparing to play Tonga on June 26 and Australia at the end of the season in international double-headers that would also feature the Kiwi Ferns. After a year in which the only international fixtures were a men’s Test between Netherlands and Germany and a women’s double-header in which the Kiwi Ferns beat Fetu Samoa and Tonga downed Niue, officials are hoping a full calendar of matches can be played in 2021.

New Zealand beat Australia in the ANZAC Test in Brisbane. It is the first time since 1953 that the Kiwis have won three consecutive matches against the Kangaroos . New Zealand could climb to the top of the world rankings later this year . Winger Manu Vatuvei scored two first-half tries as the Kiwis followed up their back-to-back victories in the 2014 Four Nations Series with an impressive 26-12 win in the re-arranged ANZAC Test in front of a 32,681 crowd at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium.

Shaun Johnson and Tyson Frizell at Wollongong’s WIN Stadium in 2019. © Getty Shaun Johnson and Tyson Frizell at Wollongong’s WIN Stadium in 2019.

Australian coach Mal Meninga and his New Zealand counterpart Michael Maguire are pushing for Test matches to be played at the end of the year despite the superpower nations controversially withdrawing from the Rugby League World Cup.

The Australian Rugby League and New Zealand Rugby League told the International Rugby League of their stance on Thursday, the same day that league officials expressed a desire for the code to become an Olympic event in time for the Brisbane 2032 Games.

The IRL savaged the decision as "selfish, parochial and cowardly" and claimed it undermined the ambition of Olympic participation.

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The next wave of Covid will be different. When cases soared in spring and winter last year lockdowns rapidly brought them back under control. This time it will be vaccines that do the hard work. But Covid jabs are not a perfect shield. They slow the spread of the virus, help prevent disease and reduce the risk of dying. Israel’s coronavirus task force has recommended partially reinstating the green pass programme and restricting access to certain events to vaccinated people despite serious Covid cases being extremely rare.

The Kangaroos and Kiwis have boycotted the World Cup . Credit:Getty. In a joint statement, the ARLC and NZRL said the decision to withdraw from the World Cup came after considering the risk of COVID-19 infection in the United Kingdom, the worsening environment in Australia and the time a majority of NRL players will spend away from home under strict biosecurity conditions prior to the World Cup .

Whether the World Cup proceeds without its two biggest drawcards will soon be determined, although it is unlikely the British government will stump up the $47.5 million required if the event is postponed until 2022.

While the Kangaroos and Kiwis won't play in the northern hemisphere due to safety concerns, Meninga and Maguire hope Test matches can still be held at the conclusion of the current NRL season.

"That would be a fantastic outcome," Meninga told the Herald.

"International rugby league has an obligation to play games in the northern and southern hemisphere to keep the game going.

"If you look at the international game and where we are, we want to make sure the international game prospers.

"The International Rugby League needs money. How do they survive another 12 months from a financial point of view until the World Cup?

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“ Despite years of false claims, evidence has never been produced to demonstrate that Qatar won the rights to host the Fifa World Cup 2022 unethically or by means that contravened Fifa’s strict bidding rules,” a statement said. It sums up much of this disconnect that Gareth Southgate admitted he “wasn’t totally aware” of Norway's growing calls for a boycott when asked last week. Normally such an excellent speaker on these issues, the England manager was notably constrained when discussing Qatar.

NBA players' brief boycott in protest of police abuses and racism raises the more general question of when such boycotts are appropriate. The strongest case for them is when the sports events organizers are themselves perpetrators of grave injustice, even more so when the event directly causes such wrongs.

"If the World Cup doesn't go ahead, how do they survive? We've got to come up with two separate plans, one down here [in the southern hemisphere] and one up there to keep the game alive and to make money for the International Rugby League until we get through this pandemic.

"The best outcome would be a postponement until next year. Then we do some international games here and some international games in the northern hemisphere to keep the game buzzing along.

"That would support the commitment of sponsors and supporters up there crying out for more international rugby league."

The Kiwis are the No.1 Test team in the world and would have been the top seeds had they participated in the World Cup. Maguire said it was important his team kept active despite the boycott decision.

"Definitely. It's really important we have the international game on the agenda at the end of the year because it's a big part of what the game is about," Maguire said.

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The prospect of Norway boycotting next winter’s World Cup in Qatar began in the arctic circle. There have been numerous allegations of bribery between the Qatar bid committee and FIFA members and executives since its award. After reading about the deaths the players and staff at Tromsø decided to take a stand. And so, late last month, it called officially for a tournament boycott from the Norwegian national team.

Germany midfielder Joshua Kimmich said calls to boycott the 2022 World Cup in Qatar over the Gulf state’s alleged treatment of migrant workers building stadiums have come “10 years too late”. Media outlet the Guardian reported last month that at least 6,500 migrant workers - many working on World Cup projects - had died in Qatar since it won the right 10 years ago to stage the event, according to the newspaper’s calculations from official records. “I think we’re 10 years too late to boycott the World Cup ,” Kimmich said before Germany’s Group J World Cup qualifier away to Romania later on Sunday.

"It gives players of New Zealand who excel right throughout the year an opportunity to represent their country. There's not one Kiwi player that takes it lightly, it's a real passionate piece for the boys to represent their country.

"To be their coach and see them wear the jersey with the pride they have is special. I think it's very important the game works out a way to get some international games at the end of the year."

Maguire added that Test matches should be taken to New Zealand as soon as possible given the Warriors haven't played at home for 18 months.

"A lot of players across the game do come from New Zealand, Tonga and Samoa, the [Cook] Islands are important to the game as well," he said.

The Rugby League Players' Association said individual players - rather than administrators - should have the right to make a decision on World Cup participation.

"The news overnight that Australia and New Zealand will not compete in the 2021 World Cup is no doubt disappointing for players who were hoping to represent their nations in the tournament," said RLPA CEO Clint Newton.

Kangaroos, Kiwis boycott World Cup over safety concerns

  Kangaroos, Kiwis boycott World Cup over safety concerns Australia and New Zealand have pulled out of the 2021 Rugby League World Cup in England due to safety concerns.

"We have had feedback from a number of players eligible for these nations stating their intentions to compete in the tournament, pending more information becoming available in the coming weeks.

"Clearly, the views of those players have not been enough to prevent this decision and we believe it has been made prematurely.

"We have worked closely with Rugby League World Cup staff for some time now and we are committed to continuing those discussions regarding player health and safety protocols.

"We have an obligation to advocate on behalf of all players to secure the best possible terms and conditions for the tournament, and this remains ongoing.

"For players representing remaining participating nations, our priority will be to help ensure appropriate health and safety measures are in place, and also provide them with the relevant information to make an informed decision about participation.

"We had anticipated that players from Australia and New Zealand would have that same opportunity, which has unfortunately been taken away from them with last night's decision."

Rugby League World Cup 2021: Why aren't Australia and New Zealand playing? .
Here's everything we know about the decision and the reasons why Australia and New Zealand withdrew from the 2021 Rugby League World Cup.  ARLC AND NZRL STATEMENTBoth organisations released a joint statement on Thursday afternoon confirming the news, citing player welfare and safety concerns."The Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) and New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) today informed the International Rugby League (IRL) and Rugby League World Cup (RLWC) organisers that Australia and New Zealand will not compete in a 2021 World Cup because of player welfare and safety concerns," the statement said.

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