GB Lions tour to go ahead in 2019

Drew Darbyshire

The Lions tour to Australia will take place in 2019, with the Kangaroos touring Great Britain the year after.

The Rugby League International Federation met last week to discuss a variety of items reflecting its leadership of rugby league.

At the top of the things discussed was finalisation of a long international calendar that would allow fans and other stakeholders to plan their future.

The calendar centres on a suite of global events in four-year cycles, including Rugby League World Cups, 9s World Cups, European and Asia Pacific Confederation tournaments, Lions, Kangaroos and Kiwi tours, and opportunities for developing nations.

The board agreed to undertake consultation with stakeholders to finalise the details for the next two cycles to present its planned world rugby league congress in the UK in November.

Key elements of the calendar include:

  • Rugby League World Cup in 2021 and 2025
  • Kangaroos Tour to UK in 2020
  • Kiwi Tour to UK in 2018 and 2022
  • Lions tour to southern hemisphere in 2019 and 2024
  • 9s World Cup in 2019 and 2023
  • 2019 Championships for the Pacific nations in a mid and end of season format
  • 2018 European Championship (and then at two-year intervals)
  • 2018 Australia v New Zealand Test (annually to 2022)
  • 2020 New Zealand fixture(s) in the southern hemisphere

The board also agreed that World Cup qualifying competitions will expand organically and begin earlier due to the increase in aspiration from the growing membership.

RLIF chairman John Grant said: “There’s clearly still some detail to be finalised, but this is a fantastic announcement that has been a long time coming.

“It should give great heart and confidence to our international community.

‘It reflects the broad diversity that exists across our RLIF Member nations and we believe it can provide the certainty our fans, players and commercial stakeholders need to make long term commitments to international rugby league.”