Following the completion of the wheelchair group games at the Rugby League World Cup yesterday, it is now confirmed that England and Wales will clash in the semi-finals on Sunday, with a possible place in the World Cup Final at stake.
It’s been an exciting tournament for players but for fans at home, it has opened up the sport to a new fanbase. After the opening game of the tournament, Wheelchair Rugby League was trending fourth on Twitter in the UK, with greats of both Rugby League and Rugby Union talking about the sport.
Ahead of the semi-finals on Sunday, here is a breakdown of how our Rhinos players have gotten on during the tournament so far:
Having booked their place in the final four with three wins from three, England are one of the favourites to lift the World Cup trophy on home soil.
Leeds stars Nathan Collins and captain Tom Halliwell have been involved in every game of Group A so far, while Rhinos player-coach James Simpson appeared twice in wins over Ireland and Spain.
Opening with a 38-8 win over Australia, Collins wowed the crowd at the Copper Box with a two-try display and four goals. Three days later, Halliwell and Simpson got their try-scoring underway as part of a 17-try mauling of Spain, plus Collins’ trusty conversions saw him add seven to his tournament tally.
At the start of this week, Tom Coyd’s side recorded their biggest score of the tournament so far against Ireland. The Rhinos starlets were among the try scorers again, Simpson crossing four times in the 121-0 result. Captain Halliwell recorded a brace, plus Collins finished with a personal points haul of 28 points with three tries and eight goals.
Other notable names during the tournament have been Halifax’s Grand Final winners Adam Rigby and Jack Brown, the latter scoring tries in every game during the tournament, plus Catalans’ Sebastien Bechara, who joined the Panthers on dual registration to help them defeat Leeds, has also been on top form.
Leeds’ sole representative in the Welsh squad, Jodie Boyd-Ward, has helped the Dragons sneak into the semi finals, following USA’s defeat to France on Thursday.
A Challenge Cup champion in 2022, Boyd-Ward has also played every game for Wales. Stephen Jones’ side fell short against France at Sheffield’s EIS Arena – the French taking away a 154-6 result – but a great second half comeback saw Wales and Boyd-Ward beat USA 50-32 result for their first win of the tournament.
Coming into the final round of group fixtures, Wales needed results to go their way for a chance to compete for a place in the final. Having seen France demolish USA beforehand, they knew a win against bottom of the table Scotland would send them into the semis.
Back at the EIS, Jones’ side got the job done with a 70-36 win. Although the first half was full of tries but tight on the scoreline, a masterful second half saw Wales set up a semi final with neighbours England; Andrew Higgins leading the scoring with four tries.
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