Samoa and England talks re-open over proposed 2024 tour following IRL board meeting

Drew Darbyshire
England v Samoa Rugby League World Cup St James' Park Alamy

Samoa perform the Siva Tau ahead of the 2021 World Cup opener against England at St James' Park - Alamy

Talks have re-opened in regards to Samoa touring England in the autumn of 2024, the International Rugby League has confirmed.

Earlier this month, the Rugby Football League announced that Samoa would not be travelling over to England to take part in a three-match test series, leaving England in limbo regarding their international schedule for 2024 with no fixtures locked in.

However, the IRL now hope the tour can go ahead as originally planned, with Samoa committed to re-opening talks with the RFL over the prospect of a three-match series on English soil in the autumn of next year following a meeting with IRL chair Troy Grant.

Last week, the IRL board discussed Samoa’s decision to decline an invitation to travel to England next year and ‘strongly encouraged’ the 2021 World Cup finalists to make a u-turn on their decision.

Grant met with Toa Samoa team manager Hanan Laban in Brisbane, with new Rugby League Samoa executive president Ponifasio Vasa also present in the meeting, with the latter pledging a commitment to re-open discussions with the RFL regarding their proposed tour next year.

IRL hopeful Samoa’s proposed tour to England in 2024 will go ahead

IRL boss Grant, who has spoken with Samoa coach Ben Gardiner, hopes positive talks with the new Rugby League Samoa executive board will see the tour go ahead next autumn.

Grant said: “I am excited by the new direction and vision of Rugby League Samoa, their improved capability and plans for the growth of rugby league in Samoa.

“It is pleasing that they understand how important Samoa is to the international rugby league family and I was very impressed by their positive approach towards helping to build the game in the northern hemisphere.

“Rugby League Samoa will work with the IRL and RFL to understand any hurdles needed to overcome in making the tour a successful reality and continue to build on the wonderful legacy they have recently achieved.”

What next for international rugby league in northern hemisphere?

In press release issued by the IRL, they say the European Rugby League is working on a ‘Euros’ competition that will coincide with the desired Samoan tour to England, giving the northern hemisphere the ‘most international content in recent memory’ in the autumn of 2024.

Meanwhile, England are hopeful of travelling to Australia for an Ashes series at the end of the 2025 season, with Samoa then re-joining the Pacific Championships, which was held between six nations – Australia, New Zealand, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Fiji and the Cook Islands – for the first time last month.

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