After being forced to sit and watch for the past 17 days as the men took center stage, the world’s female rugby league players finally get their chance on Tuesday when the 2021 Rugby League World Cup women’s tournament kicks off. On day 18, the big name on show at Headingley is England, as Craig Richards sends out a side that is expected to put up a fight against Australia and New Zealand in the later stages.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of the action on Tuesday…
Women’s Group A: England vs. Brazil
Headingley Stadium in Leeds.
When: at 2:30 p.m. (GMT)
BBC Two and BBC iPlayer are available on television.
Rochelle Tamarua is the referee (New Zealand)
N/A – N/A – N/A – N/A – N/A – N/
England’s final five: LWWWWW
Brazil’s final five: WL
Emily Rudge and her England teammates will face high expectations as the hosts look to make a strong first impression. This is a squad full of household names, with seven of the 24-man squad having just won the Betfred Women’s Super League with Leeds Rhinos. Courtney Winfield-Hill, a scrum half who recently chose England over her native Australia, and Fran Goldthorp, a teenage three-quarter, are among them. Amy Hardcastle of St Helens holds the national team try scoring record with 21, while club colleagues Rudge and Jodie Cunningham share the appearance record with 25.
Brazil is taking a leap into the unknown, becoming the first South American team to compete in a Rugby League World Cup, and only their third match overall. The Amazonas pushed France all the way in a recent warm-up match after being selected as one of the final eight participants due to the infrastructure in place. Franciny Amaral’s try early in the second half got them back into the game, which they eventually lost 16-4, with their only previous experience being a 48-0 win over Argentina in 2018. Captain Maria Graf works as a personal trainer on the side, as is typical of a group of part-timers.
Sportsman stat: England has won six and lost seven of their 13 World Cup games, losing to Australia and New Zealand in each of their previous three appearances, as well as a surprise 22-16 loss to Cook Islands in 2017.
- Match odds from Betfred: England 1/2000, Brazil 33/1, draw 33/1.
- England is 14/1 to win the tournament, while Brazil is 200/1.
Papua New Guinea v Canada – Women’s Group A
Headingley Stadium in Leeds.
When: 5 p.m. (GMT)
BBC Red Button and BBC iPlayer on television
Geoffrey Poumes is the referee (France)
Papua New Guinea defeated Canada 22-8 in their most recent meeting (Woolooware, RLWC 2017)
Last five Papua New Guineans: LLLWW
Last five Canadians: LWWWL
The two sides following England and Brazil onto the field at Headingley have little in common, with the Orchids having split a two-game series with Craig Richards’ side in 2019, while Canada faced both Australia and New Zealand in the previous World Cup in 2017. Gabrielle Hindley leads a Ravens team that includes former NZ Ferns international Laura Mariu. The 41-year-old has represented New Zealand in five World Cups, but she also qualifies for Canada through her mother.
For the PNG Orchids, the goal will be to reach their first World Cup semi-final before players like Therese Aiton and Shirley Joe reach the end of their careers.
Papua New Guinea has only one win in nine official matches, and that came in their most recent full international against England in 2019, thanks to Elsie Albert’s brilliant last-minute winner.
Papua New Guinea is 20/1 to win the tournament, while Canada is 66/1.
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*21 and over | BeGambleAware | Odds are subject to change