Ashes series could take place in 2023 in 10-year plan for international calendar

England winger Tommy Makinson

International Rugby League chairman Troy Grant says it is unlikely the Ashes will be re-scheduled for next year, but the series could take place in 2023.

Grant says the 2020 Ashes Series, which fell victim to the coronavirus pandemic, is unlikely to be re-scheduled for 2022 and suggests New Zealand could instead provide the opposition for England next year.

“Traditionally, countries like a lighter year of content following a World Cup,” he said.

The next Ashes Series could take place in 2023, possibly to coincide with the next World 9s, and Grant says he is confident a 10-year calendar will finally be put in place as the IRL looks to “get our act in order”.

“That has been an Achilles heel of the IRL for a long time, to not have that clarity about when competitions are played,” he said.

Because the IRL currently does not have enough clout, it means this year’s mid-season international window is likely to be a one-off, with a move to the end of the season likely from 2022.

“We’re targeting the end of the year to have the international window so it doesn’t corrupt the professional leagues,” said Grant, who is hoping to strengthen the IRL’s hand through negotiation.

“It’s finding a delicate balance and I believe the way to get these issues resolved is by having really authentic and strong relationships with the two professional leagues.

“Before becoming a director I reached out to club CEOs in the NRL to understand their thinking and where they see international rugby league fitting in with their demands.

“They said to a person it was the first time the IRL had ever spoken to them. I think the relationship we have with the ARL, the RFL and the professional clubs is stronger than it’s been for a long time.”

Grant says the IRL is also exploring the possibility of private equity investment and is pushing for an alignment of the laws of the game between the NRL and the RFL.

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