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A lot of people (including rugby league fans) won't know this - but the 2008 Rugby League World Cup is scheduled to take place in Australia in 2008. After the somewhat abysmal failure of the sixteen team 2000 World Cup in England, the tournament is scheduled to return as a commemoration of the centenary of the game in Australia. So far five teams have been given qualification due to their world ranking. These are Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, England, and France. The remaining five spots will be decided by a series of qualifiers, with the aim to produce a competitive World Cup to further re-establish the game on an international level following a fairly disastrous twenty years or so. Many people aren't aware that the rugby league world cup dates back to 1954, making it an old tournament as far as international sport goes. Qualifying this far has begun in Europe, with the following outcomes in round one. Russia 40 defeated The Netherlands 14 Georgia 45 defeated Serbia 10 Georgia 57 defeated The Netherlands 16 Russia 44 defeated Serbia 6 The Netherlands 38 defeated Serbia 26 Georgia vs. Russia was cancelled Russia took part in the 2000 World Cup (in which they were spanked by all comers, including a 110-4 loss to Australia), whilst Georgia managed to draw a crowd of ten thousand and nationwide television coverage for their clash against the Netherlands. Both Russia and Georgia will advance to the second round of European qualification, which looks like this. GROUP A Scotland Georgia Wales GROUP B Ireland Lebanon Russia The two first nations will progress to the World Cup. In Group A it's a toss up between Scotland and Wales, whilst group two will be evenly contested by the Irish and the always unpredictable Lebanese side. They'll be a threat as long as Hazem El Masri remains in action. The two runners up will enter a repecharge round. Pacific Qualification will include Cook Islands, Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga. The top two will progress to the World Cup and the third placed side will enter the repecharge with the two European runners up and the Atlantic winner. Atlantic qualifiers will feature Japan, South Africa, the United States, and the West Indies. This is a fairly open group - really. South Africa put in an abysmal performance in 2000, whilst the United States came close to beating Australia (albeit an underdone and lazy Aussie side) in 2004. The West Indies are newcomers to international rugby league, and the US have had little trouble with Japan in the past. Ultimately I think the make up of the tournament will be something like. Australia New Zealand England Papua New Guinea France Wales Ireland Tonga Samoa Lebanon
It's not something I've seen mentioned alot on EWB, but I'm hoping there are some rugby league fans on here? Rugby is probably my second sport behind football, but snooker runs it close! I'm a Wigan fan myself, so obviously I'm very happy after last season's Super League win, and I'm very much looking forward to the World Club Challenge against St George/Illawarra in a few weeks. But anyways the rugby season is upon us yet again, the Challenge Cup has already started, Round 2 matches are due to be played today. The highlight fixture has to be the RAF vs British Army at Aldershot this afternoon. The Northern Rail Cup starts today too, Toulouse v Dewsbury play this afternoon, and then a whole host of fixtures tomorrow including Batley v Leigh, London Skolars v Widnes and Whitehaven v Workington. But the big one starts next weekend, the Super League is back and it is starting this year with a Millenium Magic weekend in Cardiff. Now me and my brother, and a few other people too are not fans of the Magic weekend concept. It seems pointless sending fans all around the UK, mainly Cariff and Edinburgh, to watch a round of fixtures, and doing it in February this year is beyond stupid. Who in there right mind would want to go all the way to Cardiff, and sit in a freezing stadium and watch 4 consecutive rugby matches? I'd much rather stay at home and watch all the games on Sky, and trust me I have been to both Cardiff and Edinburgh weekends and not enjoyed either. It seems to me that it would be a better idea to do the Magic Weekend in the Summer, and have it at Old Trafford in the football off-season? This way all the teams and fans don't have to travel far (apart from Harlequins and Catalans), the weather will be warmer, it will be cheaper for the fans and it would generally be a better atmospheric event. Anyways that's my little rant over. So if any rugby league fans are on the board, come post in here throughout the season and we'll have some good banter.