British and Irish tour of southern hemisphere in 2019 is back on
A British and Irish Lions tour of the southern hemisphere in 2019 is back on after a Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) meeting in Singapore.
It was threatened by a proposal from Australia, who wanted to tour the UK in 2019 but will now do so in 2020 with New Zealand coming in 2018 and 2022.
The tour would be the Lions’ first action for 12 years after it was disbanded after a series with the Kiwis
The RLIF aims to get this proposed calendar confirmed in November.
The Lions’ last match was in 2007 against New Zealand in a series that preceded the 2008 World Cup.
After that 3-0 win for Great Britain, England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland have played under their own banners. England will continue to do so for World Cups and incoming tours.
The Kangaroos were keen to go on a tour in 2019 but the RLIF’s two-day meeting in Singapore decided that the Lions would proceed with their trip, which was announced last year.
“Organisers of the 2021 World Cup in England believe a visit by Australia at the end of the 2020 season would help build momentum for the tournament,” said a statement from the Australian Rugby League Commission.
“A proposed Lions Tour of the southern hemisphere by Great Britain is now expected to take place next year and include Tests against Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and possibly another Pacific nation.”
Key elements of the calendar include:
- Rugby League World Cup in 2021 and 2025
- Australia tour to UK in 2020
- New Zealand tour to UK in 2018 and 2022
- Lions tour to southern hemisphere in 2019 and 2024
- Nine’s World Cup in 2019 and 2023
- 2019 Championships for the Pacific nations in a mid- and end-of-season format
- 2018 European Championship (then at two-year intervals)
- 2018 Australia v New Zealand Test (annually to 2022)
- 2020 New Zealand fixture(s) in the southern hemisphere
England played New Zealand in Denver in June, the first of three matches in as many years in the United States.
A key objective for the sport is to increase interest in North America, which will host the 2025 World Cup.
However, the RLIF has agreed to hold a review into the process and criteria it applies to sanctioning international matches.
“The Denver Test exposed all of us alike to this performance standard and has been a positive catalyst for this review,” said RLIF chief executive Nigel Wood.