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Dublin: 8°C Tuesday 27 October 2020

Explainer: An outsider’s guide to the Rugby League World Cup

For starters, it kicks off today. The next five weeks are going to be awesome.

Rugby’s rugby…

RIGHT… EXCEPT,THERE are two codes of the beautiful game, Union and League. One popular and common in Ireland and one, not so much.

The World Cup that may catch your attention over the coming five weeks is the Rugby League World Cup and it’s sure to throw up some spectacular moments in thrilling matches.

We won’t bore you with too many details, but  Rugby League is basically different for two main reasons: there are only 13 players per side and the ball will be turned over to the opposition after six tackles. That means each set of phases will end with either a score, a tactical kick or a straight turnover to the opposition.

Martin Rickett/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Wait, there’s a World Cup on? Yep, it’s officially hosted by England and Wales, but Avignon, Perpignan and Limerick will also provide venues.

So, there’s a game here? That’s right, you can watch our Ireland side  in action against mighty Australia at Thomond Park on November 9. So, if you don’t fancy seeing Joe Schmidt’s first game in charge of the union XV in Dublin, head Shannonside.

What of Ireland? Our RLI Wolfhounds are a little short on indigenous talent, but the net has been cast wide across the Super League and the NRL to put a competitive squad together.  Australian born Pat Richards will be our key man.

Right, how do we qualify? It won’t be easy escaping a Group A containing hosts England and nine-time champions Australia, but if we can just finish above Fiji, we’ll be in the quarter-finals.

BOO-YAWe’ll probably win the flippin’ thing, right? Well… not to dampen expectation, but probably not. The Wolfhounds are 250/1 outsiders to top our group. That said, we’re only 150/1 to reach the final.

Who should we watch out for? For top Rugby League talent you don’t have to look far past Australia and New Zealand. The Kangaroos can boast assist-machine Cooper Cronk, 40 tackle per game man Cameron Smith and of course, Jonathan Thurston.

Image credit: Keegan Smith

Defending champions New Zealand have had one man with a three -part name dominating their build-up: Sonny Bill Williams. The All Black / boxer has put aside his ‘other commitments’ and considered the World Cup worthy of his presence. So if it’s good enough for Sonny Bill, you ought to tune in.

Just go out there and enjoy it, right?

Need more info? This way…

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