The ninth edition of the global tournament was due to be held in the cities of Auckland and Whangarei, New Zealand over a month-long period between September 18 and October 16.
However, governing body World Rugby confirmed on Tuesday that they had made the “difficult decision” to recommend a postponement until next year, citing the significant challenges posed by “the uncertain and challenging global Covid-19 landscape” including uncertainty regarding adequate preparation and global travel restrictions.
“While appreciating the recommendation is extremely disappointing for teams and fans, it has their interests at heart, and gives the tournament the best opportunity to be all it can be for them, all New Zealanders and the global rugby family,” World Rugby said in a statement.
“It has become clear in recent discussions with key partners including New Zealand Rugby, the New Zealand Government and participating unions, that, given the scale of the event and the Covid-19-related uncertainties, it is just not possible to deliver the environment for all teams to be the best that they can be on the sport’s greatest stage.”
The statement added: “World Rugby can assure teams, New Zealanders and the global rugby family that the recommendation to postpone the tournament will help to ensure that Rugby World Cup 2021 will be all it can be next year for players, fans and the rugby family – one of the great Rugby World Cups.”
The recommendation to postpone the tournament will be discussed by the Rugby World Cup Board and World Rugby Executive Committee, due to meet next week across March 8-9.
England have been placed in Pool C for the World Cup, alongside France, South Africa and Fiji.
They had been due to open against Fiji at Auckland’s Eden Park on September 18.
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