World Cup
Switch Announced

The 2008 World Cup will be played at the end of the 2008 season rather than at the start, as originally planned.

The move, announced at a meeting of the International Federation in Brisbane on Thursday, followed pressure from Australia's National Rugby League clubs who were concerned over the possibility of losing players for the start of the domestic season.

The Rugby Football League had made plans to put back the start of the Super League campaign by six weeks to accommodate the World Cup in February and March but the Federation decided it would now take place in October and November, marking the end of a season-long celebration of the game's centenary Down Under.

"Careful consideration has been given in recent weeks to all aspects of the timing of the cup," said Federation chairman Colin Love.

"We reached the conclusion that an end-of-year World Cup is the best all-round answer.

"All of us in the international league community will make a commitment to ensuring that the 2008 cup will be a wonderful finale to rugby league's most important year."

The competition will feature 10 teams, with England, Australia, New Zealand, France and Papua New Guinea entered automatically, and five more to qualify.

Officials are likely to give the go-ahead for a match between Maori and Aboriginal teams as a special feature to recognise their contribution to rugby league.

Love was returned for the next two years as chairman, with RFL executive chairman Richard Lewis elected for two more years as his deputy.