The Rugby League World Cup is held once every fourth year and arranged by the members of the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF). The inaugural Rugby League World Cup took place in 1954 and this is therefore the oldest of the rugby world cups. (A rugby world cup for union rugby was not instituted until 1987.) Since 2000, RLIF also arranges Women’s Rugby League World Cup and Student’s Rugby League World Cup.
As of 2011, a total of thirteen Rugby League World Cups have been held and all of them have been won by Australia (9 victories), Great Britain (3 victories) or New Zealand (1 victory). Over the years, a total of 17 countries have participated. Australia, New Zealand and France are the only countries who have participated in all thirteen cups. Great Britain used to be one team but is today divided into England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.
France started campaigning for a Rugby League World Cup as early as 1935, and a few years after the end of World War II the idea was picked up again. Once of the pioneers was Paul Paul Barrière, the President of the French Rugby League. By the early 1950s the idea of a world cup had caught the attention of the Rugby Football League and its secretary Bill Fallowfield managed to convince the Rugby League Council to lend its support. The first Rugby League World Cup was played at Parc des Princes in Paris in 1954. Officially known as the Rugby World Cup, it featured teams from Australia, Great Britain, New Zealand and France. In the final, Great Britain defeated France.
The Rugby League World Cup has used several different formats throughout its history, chiefly to accommodate for the increased number of national teams that wish to participate. From 1954 to 1972, the cup was comprised of no more than four teams: Australia. Great Britain, New Zealand and France. All four teams played each other and the two teams with the most points after these matches met each other in a final. In 1975, a new format was introduced based solely on a point system – there was no final. The new system was not used for the 1977 World Cup, but two cups in the eighties (1985-88 and 1989-92) utilized it. The length of a series swelled from eight months to three years.
Since 1995, a team needs to qualify to gain entry to the World Cup. There are three qualifying groups, one for Europe, one for Oceania and one for the Pacific Islands & Atlantic. If a team fail to quality in their group, they can attempt to gain entry via the repêchage rounds.
Betting on Rugby League World Cup has always been popular, but until the advent of internet betting it could be hard to find a bookmaker willing to accept your bet unless you lived in a country where rugby was a major sports. Today, people from all over the world place bets on the Rugby League World Cup.