Rugby League: Six pursue final World Cup place

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The Independent Online
SIX OF rugby league's developing nations are to play off against each other for the 16th place in the World Cup to be held in Britain and France in 2000.

The meeting of the game's International Federation in Sydney yesterday decided that Italy, Lebanon and Morocco should meet in a Mediterranean Cup organised by France.

The winner of that will then meet the side that comes out on top of a tournament involving the United States, Canada and Japan, the winner gaining the prize of the last place in the competition proper.

It was again confirmed that Britain - with the help of its surrounding countries - will be the host nation in 2000. South Africa withdrew a bid to stage a counter-presentation arguing that the World Cup should be allocated to them.

Russia, already allocated a place in the World Cup, has been rewarded for maintaining its efforts through some trying times by being given associate membership of the International Federation. In a sliding scale of recognition, Morocco and Japan have been awarded conditional membership while the USA and Canada have become honourary members.

Salford have suffered a major blow in the build-up to their Silk Cut Challenge Cup quarter-final against Castleford this Saturday with the news that their Australian second-row forward, Darren Brown, will be out for six weeks after breaking a bone in the base of his thumb in the defeat by St Helens on Sunday.

Castleford's Dean Sampson has been cleared to play after the disciplinary committee decided to impose no ban for his sending-off against Wakefield.

Wigan hope to have Tony Smith back in their squad for their Super League game with Leeds at Headingley a week on Friday.

The Great Britain scrum-half missed the Challenge Cup defeat by the same opponents last month after cracking a bone in his ankle, but has made rapid progress and could force his way back into contention when Wigan try to take revenge.

Wigan's researches have confirmed that their captain, Andy Farrell, has set a club record by scoring in 49 successive matches.