RLIF boss Nigel Wood shocked by ARLC proposed international calendar

Drew Darbyshire

RLIF chief executive Nigel Wood said he was surprised to see the ARLC release a proposed international calendar without discussions with anyone else taking place.

The National Rugby League and Australian Rugby League Commission have come up with plans to bring back the Australia Kangaroos tours of Great Britain.

The plans also include an Oceania Cup coming into fruition as well as Northern Hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere Four Nations tournaments being staged over the next five years.

But Rugby League International Federation boss Wood is stunned to see the plans being released to the public without contact with anyone else.

In a statement, he said: “It is certainly commendable that Australia is now positively engaged in discussing the future of international rugby league.

“Nevertheless, there are likely to be many surprised about how far the ARLC’s new thinking deviates from the position it had previously committed to as part of the RLIF Board in May 2017. At that time, the RLIF Board announced a GB Lions Tour in 2019 to be followed by a Kangaroo Tour in 2020 as a precursor to the next RLIF World Cup in the UK in 2021.

“Fundamentally, however, bilateral events such as Lions, Kangaroo and Kiwi Tours are matters for the individual nations themselves to discuss, in the first instance, and we are unclear what discussions have been had between the ARLC, the RFL and NZRL to step back from the previous calendar. It would be unfortunate if all parties have not discussed and agreed these changes before this announcement.

“Having said that we welcome the ARLC’s contribution to the wider discussions on the future international calendar, particularly as regards the RLIF’s ambition to create a potential Pacific Championship to replicate that already organised for nations in Europe.

“International rugby league has never been more vibrant, and it is very encouraging to see so many ideas come forward from numerous sources, all of which seek the same objective; a fuller and more compelling international calendar.

“The RLIF Board meets later this month, by which time it is hoped the ARLC will be in a position to make a formal submission which can be considered by the RLIF Board alongside the views of our other members.”