Kiwi tour is something to be savoured

The news that New Zealand are to tour England in 2015 is something to really get excited about.

A return to test series, rather than the somewhat anaemic tournaments of the last decade or so, really gives a boost to international rugby league.

Many of us are old enough to remember the days when Great Britain home test series would be shown live on the BBC.

The excitement and coverage which they generated helped to give rugby league a truly national profile in the days before summer rugby and Super League brought the curtain down on old style tours.

A three-test series helps to ramp up the intensity levels. Like in cricket, sub-plots can sprout and grow, personal rivalries can shape the action, and it should build to a tremendous climax.

The RFL and NZRL should be congratulated for arranging a meaningful international event in a year which Australia, to suit their own ends, wanted to remain fallow.

An empty international year would have been a disaster in this country, the final nail in the coffin of any meaningful growth legacy from last year’s World Cup.

It is a shame that Great Britain are not touring Down Under, as many fans were genuinely relishing the return of the famous blue and red vee.

But a three-match test series between two well-matched sides adds some genuine spice to the international calendar at last.

The venues remained to be confirmed, of course, but my own view is that Hull, Wembley and a venue in the north west would be perfect. If the Etihad is not available, then Wigan would be great.

The only downside is what now happens to France’s proposed tour to NZ, which was also meant to take place in 2015.

Of course, the French could still visit New Zealand, and play games against the likes of the Maori, Tonga and Samoa.

NZ has hosted Pacific nations before for big games, and such a tour would be much more competitive than France playing the Kiwis.

Hopefully, something can be put in place for all countries who want to play some international rugby next year. It is essential to keep the sport in the headlines and create some genuine buzz around international rugby league again.

If the Australians don’t want to join in, then that’s their issue, though I would hope that NRL clubs don’t try and interfere and prevent players turning out for their countries.

It is also to be hoped that the Celtic countries can have some meaningful games, too. Wales surely deserve playing the Kiwis in a curtain raiser for the tour.

The England v NZ test series will certainly get the blood flowing, though, whatever else happens.

I can’t wait…

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