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Record sponsorship deal for 2021 World Cup; WCC postponed

World Cup organisers believe a seven-figure sponsorship trumpeted as the biggest commercial deal in rugby league outside the NRL demonstrates the confidence in the 2021 tournament.

Just days after announcing details of a public ticket ballot that exceeded the expectations of tournament organisers, the RLWC2021 has unveiled Cazoo as the principal sponsor of the World Cup.

It is understood the deal with the UK’s leading online car retailer is worth more than GBP 1 million ($1.815m) and is the biggest sponsorship in the 66-year history of the World Cup, which is scheduled to be played in England at the end of next season.

“Rugby League World Cup 2021 is about being bold and brave and setting firsts for the tournament,” RLWC2021 commercial director Jonathan Neill said.

“This is the largest sponsorship deal in Rugby League World Cup history and we are grateful for the trust Cazoo have shown in the tournament.”

While the World Cup received some good news, there were two pieces of bad news on Thursday night (Australian time).

Match Highlights: Saints v Roosters

Due to the travel uncertainty and hectic schedules that have resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Club Challenge will not be played in its usual February/March timeslot.

A busy 2021 calendar, including the World Cup, is among the factors that will be considered in the rescheduling of the fixture.

There will also be no Golden Boot awarded in 2021 after the only men’s international fixture this year was Netherlands v Germany, while there was a women’s double-header in Auckland featuring the New Zealand Kiwi Ferns v Fetu Samoa and Tonga v Niue.

RLWC2021 CEO Jon Dutton said the sponsorship was an indication of the status RLWC2021 was building as the biggest sporting event exclusively staged in England next year,

“This is a very significant moment for the tournament and Cazoo’s sponsorship further supports our excitement and confidence in delivering the best Rugby League World Cup ever,” Dutton said.

The sponsorship announcement followed revelations that fans in 30 countries, including Australia and New Zealand, had already purchased tickets for the tournament.

London, which will host a semi-final at Emirates Stadium on November 20, was the largest area in England for sales.

The opening match between England and Samoa at St James’ Park and the double-header final at Old Trafford on November 27, 2021, were the most popular fixtures, while there was strong demand for games involving the Kangaroos and Kiwis.

“The reaction to the ballot has been outstanding and shows significant confidence and excitement for the tournament,” Dutton said.

“Demand during the public ticket ballot has far exceeded our expectations and I want to thank those who have applied for tickets. This is a tournament of firsts and will be the biggest and best RLWC ever.

“Despite the pandemic, people have made an early commitment largely based on anticipation, hope and optimism.”