Leeds Rhinos to play New Zealand in historic clash

After nearly three years without top class international Rugby League in England, fans can enjoy a feast of Rugby League action at Headingley Stadium this Autumn kicking off with a historic clash between Leeds Rhinos and New Zealand on Saturday 8th October, kick off 6pm.

The unique clash will continue a rich tradition of games between the two sides that dates back to the first ever touring side, the All Golds back in 1907. The match will be 115 years since Leeds and the All Golds met at Headingley for the first time on 26th October 1907. Three months later, Rugby League’s first ever Test was also hosted by Headingley with the Northern Union winning 14-6 on 25th January 1908.

The match will be a celebration of Rugby League with the club aiming to work with every community club in the region to provide special offers for all those involved in the community game to make it a night to remember at Headingley.

The game is also a repeat of an unforgettable night back in 2015 when Leeds played the Kiwis in front of a sell-out crowd at Headingley prior to the £45 million redevelopment of the stadium.

The match will be a vital warm up game for Michael Maguire’s side ahead of the Rugby League World Cup when they also play Ireland at Headingley in the pool stages in October.

The current team will be defending New Zealand honour against Leeds with only the 1972 tourists having lost to Leeds in twelve previous clashes between the sides dating back to 1907.

Commenting on the clash with New Zealand Chief Executive Gary Hetherington commented, “To have been granted a game against one of our great Test playing nations is a huge honour and a privilege for Leeds Rhinos. International Rugby League is the pinnacle of our sport and it has been sorely missed over the last three years due to the global pandemic.

“Our home at Headingley is intrinsically linked to the international game for over a century and I believe this game is a fantastic way to celebrate that history but also look ahead to a thrilling home World Cup here in England.

“For the first time, the mens, womens and wheelchair World Cups will be played at the same time with Headingley hosting Australia and Fiji on the opening day of the mens tournament and the opening two games of the Womens tournament.

“Ourselves and the Kiwis have a long shared history and this will be the chance to write a new chapter. Our links with New Zealand include the many great players who have played for us down the years like Bert Cook, Dean Bell, Brent Webb and Ali Lauitiiti from New Zealand. It is also important for us as a club to give our next generation of players unique opportunities to grow and test themselves. One aspect of our game we have lost in the summer era is the chance for club players to test themselves against touring nations and this is a wonderful opportunity for our squad.

“Our last meeting back in 2015 was a real ‘I was there’ moment with a number of former players making guest appearances including Ali Lauitiiti and Adrian Morley playing their final games as part of the occasion and I am sure we will have some surprises in store nearer the time. I would also like to thank the Treble Group UK for their role in facilitating the game,” added Hetherington.

Greg Peters, NZRL CEO, “To face the Rhinos at Headingly to kick start our World Cup campaign is special.

“The match celebrates our return to the Northern Hemisphere after an international rugby league hiatus while also commemorating the long shared history between New Zealand and Leeds that holds a special place in the hearts of Kiwi fans and legends.

“Together we celebrate a new era of rugby league, a crucial first stop on our World Cup Waka and the perfect ground for our current and future Kiwis to pave their way against some of the Northern Hemisphere’s best.”

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