Great Britain to tour southern hemisphere next year and Ashes series in 2020

It has been confirmed that Great Britain will tour the southern hemisphere next autumn, with England facing Australia in home Ashes series in 2020.

After a four-day Congress based in York, the International Federation have approved in principle an eight-year rolling calendar from 2019.

It has been agreed that Great Britain will tour the southern hemisphere to face New Zealand, Tonga, Samoa, Fiji and Papua New Guinea next year.

The Rugby Football League have welcomed the outcomes of this week’s RLIF meeting, which involve England playing a home series against Australia in 2020, and a Great Britain tour to the southern hemisphere next autumn.

“The next three years are vitally important to our England teams and the game in this country as we prepare to host the 2021 Rugby League World Cups,” said Ralph Rimmer, the chief executive of the RFL.

“The development of the England team over the last 18 months, reaching the final of the 2017 World Cup and then earning three wins against New Zealand in 2018, has been so encouraging – and there’s an obvious demand from our players and supporters to play a series against Australia.

“The prospect of hosting a three-match Ashes series in 2020, for the first time since 2003, is therefore an exciting one. We’re delighted that the Australians are all so keen on getting behind that concept – and coming in 2020, the series can only build anticipation for the World Cup the following year.

“Planning for RLWC 2021 is already well underway, as the tournament’s chief executive Jon Dutton indicated this week – and now we can start our preparations to welcome the Kangaroos in 2020.

“We’ve been working to revive Great Britain as a touring team for several years now, and therefore hope the RLIF are able to deliver a workable itinerary for 2019 before Christmas, as their chief executive has indicated.

“Providing high-level international competition for our England men’s, women’s and wheelchair teams has never been more important, for our players or supporters, and it’s good to see the RLIF and its members tackling that challenge.”

The 2019 plan sees the creation of an Oceania Cup featuring Australia, New Zealand and Tonga in one group and Samoa, Fiji and Papua New Guinea in the other group.

The RLIF board has also approved financial support for the Americas Championship and a new competition for nations in the Middle East and Africa.

Australia will host the inaugural RLIF Nines World Cup in 2019, and this will feature both men’s and women’s competitions.

The programme will be played every four years with the World Cup and will include the repeat of the Oceania Cup in 2020 and 2022, which will mirror the European Championship in the northern hemisphere.

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