7:23am Wednesday 19th February 2014
© Press Association 2014
Australia and New Zealand have been announced as co-hosts for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.
The Rugby League International Federation opted to play it safe in awarding the 15th competition to two of the "big three" ahead of South Africa, the only other bid on the table.
Chairman of the bid committee and RLIF vice-chairman Nigel Wood said: "This was not a simple decision but with fans of international rugby league buoyed by the recent success of RLWC2013, we were determined to get it right.
"Both bids were thoroughly compelling but the joint Australia/New Zealand bid was selected as the one with the greatest chance of success in providing more compelling games in world class environments in front of big, passionate crowds."
It will be the third time the two southern hemisphere rivals have staged the event together, after they were co-hosts in 1968 and 1977.
South Africa, who entered a team in the 1995 and 2008 World Cups, have only a fledging domestic game but argued they could help spread the game internationally and believed, as hosts, they would have been granted government recognition.
"The bid from South Africa was very strong, prepared professionally and clearly demonstrated a passion for rugby league that is growing by the day in that country," Wood said.
Australia successfully staged the 2008 World Cup, managing to generate good crowds and a profit of around £2million which was ploughed back into the international game, but that was topped in 2013 by the effort organised by England and Wales.
A total of 457,483 fans watched the 28 matches in 2013, with sell-outs from Rochdale to Avignon and Halifax to Old Trafford, where the attendance of 74,468 for the final set a new record for international rugby league.
Wednesday's announcement means the England team could be travelling to the southern hemisphere three times in the next four years.
Australia and New Zealand are due to co-host the 2014 Four Nations Series and there are plans to bring back the British and Irish Lions tour in 2016.
The RLIF is expected to announce details of the Four Nations tournament shortly.
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