The Australian Universities team has officially withdrawn from the Students Rugby League World Cup in the wake of world restrictions surrounding COVID-19.
The Australian Universities Rugby League board have made the decision that are unable to continue planning for the tournament that was due to be played in England in July 2021.
The AURL informed tournament organisers that issues around funding and world travel have provided too much uncertainty for planning for the trip to continue.
This also means the annual interstate match between NSW Universities and Queensland Universities has been cancelled.
It had been set down for October this year to give the squad a long run in to the Students’ World Cup, which Australia would be defending for the third-straight time.
Plans for how the 2021 university representative season could now look have also been drawn up.
AURL Chairman Tas Baitieri said the withdrawal was a tough decision to make, but the board had little choice considering the game in the current climate.
“It was a hard decision to make because I believe we are the only Australian team that has won their respective division of the 2008, 2013 and 2017 World Cups,” said Baitieri.
“But when taking into consideration the uncertainty surrounding world travel and funding at this time, there seemed little other option.
“The AURL attracts regular funding from the NRL, but obviously there has been some uncertainty for the game this year because of the effects of the COVID-19 virus.
“Essentially though it is a pay-to-play system at this level – the majority of these trips are funded through a subsidy levied on the selected players that they must meet themselves.
“With everyone going through difficult times, that would be a huge ask next year for students.”
Baitieri said the AURL would now revert to their usual annual representative calendar.
It is hoped a South Pacific championship can be initiated for October next year between teams such as Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and possible even Tonga and Samoa.
That would mean the annual interstate challenge between the NSW and Queensland universities teams would go ahead towards the middle of 2021.