England v Tonga: Test series welcomed after passionate plea from RFL president

Drew Darbyshire
England v Tonga Konrad Hurrell and Tui Lolohea SWpix

Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix

The recently announced England v Tonga three-match autumn test series will be very much welcome to Sir Lindsay Hoyle, president of the Rugby Football League.

Last Friday, the RFL announced that England will host Tonga in a three-match test series at the end of the year, with the games taking place in St Helens, Leeds and Huddersfield.

Speaking on the BBC 5 Live Rugby League Podcast ahead of last Friday’s big announcement, Hoyle delivered a passionate plea about international rugby league being vital to growing the sport worldwide.

Hoyle, who is the Speaker of the House of Commons, said: “One thing I would say is that if we are going to be the great game that we are that we know, then we’ve got to start playing more international competitions where we need to be.

“I’m going to go to the England-France game, I’m looking forward to it. But we’ve got to get the Australians out of Australia. They’ve got to start recognising that you cannot be a one country sport.

“You’ve got to get more countries involved, they’re the best and we can only beat the best by playing them”

“They’ve got to stop being in their own back yard, get out there, get the New Zealanders, get Papua New Guinea, get France, we’ve got Samoa, we’ve got some great world teams out there – we need more regular international matches. International matches get beamed around the world.

“Yes, it was great to see Wigan-Warrington, what a game it was, I didn’t like the result but it was a great game, a great advert for rugby league. The problem with that is we need it to go overseas and the only way to do that is to get international players coming through.

“We have the best athletes in the world, so we’ve got to make sure they get on the international platform.”

PODCAST: Click here to listen to the full BBC 5 Live Rugby League Podcast hosted by Dave Woods, featuring Sir Lindsay Hoyle

England v Tonga test series details

England’s three-match test series with Tonga has finally been locked in for this autumn, and so have the stadiums and dates.

It will be the first time the two nations have met since the memorable 2017 World Cup semi-final in Auckland, which saw England book a place in the final with a pulsating 20-18 victory.

All three of this year’s games will be played in the traditional heartland areas in the north of England.

World champions St Helens will host the first test at the Totally Wicked Stadium on Sunday, October 22. Tonga coach Kristian Woolf will return to St Helens, where he led the Saints to three consecutive Super League titles between 2020-22.

A week later, the second test will be played at the John Smith’s Stadium in Huddersfield on Saturday, October 28.

The test series will come to a conclusion at Headingley in Leeds on Saturday, November 4.

Meanwhile, Shaun Wane’s England side enjoyed a massive 64-0 win over France in the mid-season international in Warrington on Saturday.

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