England will host three rugby league World Cups next year ©Getty Images

Jon Dutton, chief executive of the 2021 Rugby League World Cup, has welcomed an emergency loan of £16 million ($20 million/€18 million) provided by the UK Government to support the sport during the coronavirus pandemic.

The loan will be administered by the Rugby Football League (RFL) in collaboration with Sport England and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

The DCMS highlighted rugby league’s importance to the sport in communities in which it is established.

It is hoped men’s, women’s and wheelchair Rugby League World Cups next year can provide a boost to the sport, with the Government having already provided financial support to the events.

"We very much welcome the emergency support that Government has given to rugby league in England at this time of significant challenge,” said Dutton.

"The funding is undoubtedly recognition of the importance of the sport and next year’s Rugby League World Cup.

"Rugby league is a sport that unites communities, brings people together and has a demonstrable social impact particularly in the North of England where we will stage 85 per cent of the tournament’s games.

"We’ve worked on this project for five years and have already achieved a great deal. 

"RLWC2021 will be a breakthrough moment for the sport with the men’s, women’s and wheelchair tournaments being staged together for the first time.

"Our legacy programme has already provided much-needed support to local communities not least through the CreatedBy capital grants and that work is not finished.

"This provision from the Government shows what rugby league means to our communities, which only adds to our motivation to make RLWC2021 the biggest, best and most inclusive celebration of rugby league on a global stage."

Australia will aim to defend the men's World Cup title next year ©Getty Images
Australia will aim to defend the men's World Cup title next year ©Getty Images

Eighteen venues are scheduled to stage games during the tournament, with the majority in the north of England.

The tournament is scheduled to run from October 23 to November 27 2021, with the men's and women's finals scheduled for Old Trafford.

Oliver Dowden, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport claimed the loan was necessary to ensure the survival of rugby league.

All Betfred Super League, Championship and League One clubs based in England will be eligible to apply for funding.

The RFL are expected to provide further details on when the fund will open and how clubs can apply in the coming days.

“This is a massive shot in the arm to secure the survival of Rugby League," said Dowden.

"We recognise that many RFL clubs operate on very tight financial margins.

“Without their ability to stage matches with spectators and despite the Government’s extensive economic package, the professional game has come very close to collapsing.

“From my first sports visit as Secretary of State to Leigh Centurions, I could see how important these clubs are to the communities they serve.

“They are the beating heart of their towns and cities, and their impact goes far beyond what happens on the pitch.

“Sports across the board are facing unprecedented pressures, and we are supporting them through wider Government measures.

“In this case we are intervening as an exception, not to save an individual business or organisation, but to protect an entire sport, the community it supports, the World Cup held here next year and its legacy for generations to come."