Skip to content

England Edge Out France To Win Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup

England, champions of the world. After heartbreaking defeats by two and four points to France in the last two Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup finals, the hosts finally emerged on top when it mattered in front of a world-record crowd for a sport which has taken the nation by storm.

Tom Halliwell’s try with three minutes remaining was enough to decide an enthralling final in front of a crowd of 4,526 at Manchester Central. Two years ago, this sport was hidden away in sports hall in front of barely any spectators. Now, England are not only world champions, but they have a sport which will almost certainly surge in popularity in the months and years to come.

Level at 24-24 with minutes remaining, Halliwell surged through a rare gap in the France defence to seal victory and win the World Cup for a group of players who had fallen heartbreakingly short in 2013 and 2017. Now, they are the world’s best side – and masters of a sport which has a huge future.

While most of the games at this year’s tournament have been one-sided, this final was anything but. There were never more than eight points between the teams all night, with France going into an early 8-0 lead after a try and a penalty from star player Lionel Alazard. Nicolas Clausells added a goal to put the reigning champions in control early on.

But roared on by the home crowd, the hosts hit back when their captain, Halliwell, finished a slick move to narrow the French gap to two. France moved eight ahead again shortly after though when Mostefa Abassi scored but Jack Brown’s try on the stroke of half-time brought it back into the balance, with France leading 14-12.

If the first half was thrilling, the second was simply gripping. It took England three minutes to go ahead for the first time when a team move led to Lewis King scoring, before Brown’s second gave the hosts a crucial eight-point lead. The drama was far from over though, as 59-year-old Gilles Clausells narrowed the gap with a try before his nephew, Nicolas, added two goals to make it 22-22.

Nathan Collins and Nicolas Clausells then exchanged further penalties to make it 24-24 and just as it seemed as though the world’s two best sides were heading for extra-time, Halliwell delivered a captain’s moment to score the try that ensured England became world champions.

Featured News