Brazil tipped to cause shock at women's World Cup

Former Jillaroos assistant coach Andrew Charles believes Brazil will shock some of the other nations at the 2021 World Cup and could eventually rival Australia in women's rugby league.

Brazil will join France and the six countries which contested the 2017 World Cup at the expanded eight-team tournament in England, which also features Australia, Canada, Cook Islands, England, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

The South American nation was a surprise choice but earned their place after thrashing a more established Argentina team 48-0 in Sao Paulo last November with a side that featured six members of Brazil's Rugby 7s team from the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

Charles was on hand for the match as an RLIF observer and he said Brazil had the potential to be more competitive at the 2021 World Cup than 2017 surprise packets Canada were at the last tournament in Australia.       

"From what I witnessed the quality of the athletes was quite high and I believe six of them played Rugby 7s for Brazil at the Rio Olympics," Charles said.

"As one of the pioneer coaches for the Jillaroos and having followed women's rugby league closely ever since, I believe that Brazil could be right up there with them once they get more experience playing the 13-aside game.

"Athletically they would already be there, it is just a matter of fine-tuning their rugby league skills. From what I saw they would be more suited to rugby league than Rugby 7s and they were well structured. I think they will shock some of the other teams at the World Cup."

Rugby league in Brazil was established on the back of NRL matches being broadcast in the country.

Brazilian Confederation of Rugby League chief operating officer Hugo Fróes believes the game can appeal equally to women and men, and with a population of 210 million there is a huge opportunity for the game.

Charles expects significant improvement and growth ahead of the World Cup.

"Getting this leg up for the World Cup is going to expose some higher coaching and I am sure being the big country that Brazil is there will be some talent identification camps because the opportunity to go to the World Cup will bring out some more talented athletes," Charles said.

"With Brazil getting this opportunity it will inspire other South American countries so this will expose the game to millions of people now.

"I'm hoping to go back again and be involved in some of their training camps and helping them to build their skills to a level where they can match some of the top teams."

RLWC2021 CEO Jon Dutton said each nation had been assessed against set criteria that reviewed their current international and domestic infrastructure, their plans for growth and their potential impact on the World Cup.

"We had some fantastic submissions and unfortunately, we couldn't say yes to each nation, however we're confident the chosen nations will play their role in delivering the greatest, and most inclusive, Rugby League World Cup of all time," Dutton said.

"It is especially pleasing to see an inaugural South American nation compete in a Rugby League World Cup."

Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Italy and the USA are among the nations to miss out and RLIF CEO Nigel Wood said he hoped they would play in the women's Emerging Nations World Cup, which will be a part of the Festival of World Cups 2021. 

"We are encouraged that female athletes around the world are participating and rising to the challenge of skill, fitness, strength and mental toughness provided by rugby league," Wood said.

"We now have to ensure that there is clear pathway developed quickly to cater for a fuller women's international programme including new competitions based locally, regionally and globally this will include greater access to World Cup qualification."

RLWC2021 will begin with the men's opening fixture featuring England at St James' Park on October 23, 2021. The women's tournament will begin at Anfield on November 13, 2021 and the wheelchair tournament will begin on November 14, 2021 at the Copper Box Arena.

The event will finish with a finals weekend featuring the wheelchair final at the M&S Bank Arena on November 27 and men's and women's final held as a double-header at Old Trafford on November 28.