Hill talks up WC finals


RUGBY League World Cup 2017 chief executive Andrew Hill declared the stage set for an enthralling finals series after three weeks of pool matches which have captured the imagination of millions of fans around the globe and showcased the development of the international game.
Hill, pictured, congratulated the eight teams who progressed through to the quarterfinals, including host nations Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, first time finalists Lebanon, powerhouse England and Pacific island nations Tonga, Samoa and Fiji.
He also acknowledged the performance of the Pacific teams with Tonga, Fiji and PNG joining Australia as undefeated winners of their pools, and said their success confirmed RLWC2017 was the most competitive of the 15 World Cups played since 1954.
“The Rugby League World Cup has showed the cultural significance of each team,” Hill said.
“Across all three host countries, we have seen passionate fans turn out to support their country and likewise we want to thank each team for spending time in their visiting host cities to deliver clinics, visit schools and meet the fans.
“At the start of the tournament our mission was to inspire the communities to celebrate rugby league and to entertain the world.  With some of the highlights seen across New Zealand, PNG and Australia, we are certainly on track to deliver on that promise.
“The exciting finish to the pool stages has set the stage for hotly contested finals series.  All countries delivered quality rugby league competition over the past three weeks and I want to thank Ireland, Wales, France, Scotland, Italy and USA for their participation in the event.”
While this week farewells six nations, Hill also welcomed the six nations competing in the Women’s Rugby League World Cup – Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Cook Islands, Canada and England — starting on Thursday in Sydney.
Quarterfinals: Fri, Nov 17 – Australia v Samoa at Darwin Stadium (winner advances to semifinal at Brisbane Stadium, Nov 24); Sat, Nov 18 – New Zealand v Fiji at Wellington Regional Stadium (winner advances to semifinal at Brisbane Stadium Nov 24), Tonga v Lebanon at Christchurch Stadium (winner advances to semifinal at Mt Smart Stadium, 25 Nov 25); Sun, Nov 19 – England v PNG at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium (winner advances to semifinal at Mt Smart Stadium, Nov 25).