The disappointing news of Samoa turning down their proposed tour of England in 2024 broke yesterday, less than a fortnight after the conclusion of Tonga’s successful and historic test series against Shaun Wane’s side.
It had been expected that England would face Samoa after the conclusion of the 2024 Super League season, with the World Cup runner-up set to return to England for the first time since their appearance in that final against Australia in late 2022. It would also of course give England the opportunity to avenge their devastating semi-final defeat which came courtesy of Stephen Crichton’s golden point field goal.
The first suggestion that Samoa would not be touring England came when Tonga head coach Kristian Woolf cast doubt over the Samoan’s involvement, speaking post defeat at Headingley and stating: “We’ve had discussions about playing them over there as well. I don’t think anyone should count that (Samoa’s tour of England) as a given.”
That has now happened with the RFL confirming the disappointing news yesterday meaning at present England don’t have an opponent in 2024. What makes that more devasting is the fact that England are set to head down under to tour Australia in a revived Ashes tour in 2025, therefore Wane’s team will travel there potentially without having playing in two years.
Of course the delayed World Cup comes in 2026 but now the RFL have given a teaser as to what fans can expect in 2027 and 2028, concluding their statement announcing Samoa’s withdrawal with the promising news that: “England Men and Women are scheduled to tour Australia in 2025, and New Zealand and Australia have both agreed to visit England in consecutive years after the 2026 World Cup.”
This means we will see the Ashes in 2028 with a series against New Zealand in 2027.
That would be a massive boost and would see England test themselves against the two strongest teams in the world and on English soil. As well as a major event for the players it would be a spectacle for the fans and something that can help continue the growth of the game.
It certainly would dampen the blow that is Samoa’s withdrawal and it would continue the RFL’s promise of providing England with top quality opposition.
On the news of Samoa’s withdrawal, RFL Chair and IRL board member, Simon Johnson, said: “Samoa’s decision is especially disappointing, coming just days after the conclusion of Tonga’s history-making visit to these shores this autumn, but we can’t afford to dwell on it. They have made their decision.
“We now owe it to Shaun Wane and the players, and to England supporters, to deliver meaningful international Rugby League in 2024, and we are working with RL Commercial and the IRL to make that happen.
“We’ll make further announcements as soon as there are any positive developments.”