The World Cup last year was a reminder of how brilliant international rugby league can be, as well as being a major shot in the arm to try and create more games between the world’s best nations.
That has happened with International Rugby League having confirmed an international calendar through until 2030, one that includes information on World Cups, return of the Ashes, touring nations and also tri and four nation tournaments
The IRL confirmed all of that just under two week’s ago after having met in Singapore in late July to discuss the future of the international game, with IRL chair Troy Grant providing the major update to the media just days later.
That announcement read as follows: “An IRL board meeting in Singapore has agreed to a new calendar to 2030 aimed at capitalising on the growth of the international game.
“Tonga’s historic end-of-season series against England and the anticipated announcement of new tournaments in both the Southern Hemisphere and the Northern Hemisphere are set to signal the start of an exciting new era.
“The development of Tri-Nations or Four Nations tournaments in each hemisphere will be key features of the first five years of the International Calendar.
“There will also be more international tours, with the return of the Ashes in 2025 when England Men’s and Women’s teams travel to Australia.
“The Kiwis and Kangaroos will head north to play England in 2027 and 2028 respectively.
“The next Rugby League World Cup for Men’s, Women’s and Wheelchair teams has been moved to 2026 and will be staged in the Southern Hemisphere after France’s withdrawal as hosts for the scheduled 2025 tournament.
“A stand-alone Women’s World Cup will be staged in 2028, with the next Men’s World Cup, after RLWC2026, to be held in 2030.
“Regional Championships and World Cup qualifying tournaments for the Americas, Asia-Pacific, Europe and Middle East-Africa will take on greater emphasis, while a new World Series format is also being developed.
“Further details about those tournaments and other international fixtures in the next five years will be announced by participating nations in coming weeks after consultation with IRL member nations.”
Further details have now been reported with the Daily Telegraph announcing six teams will take part in a Pacific Championship over the course of 2023 and 2024, with the Australian government promising $7 million to make it happen.
It’s now been expanded upon by Zero Tackle who report that the six teams will be split across two Tri-Nation series with Australia, New Zealand and Samoa playing for the ‘Pacific Cup’, whilst Fiji, Papua New Guinea and the Cook Islands will play separately for the ‘Pacific Bowl’.
There will also be standalone women’s games with Australia, New Zealand and Tonga featuring.
Week 1 – October 14-15
Australia v Samoa (men) and Australia v New Zealand (women) at Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville
PNG v Cook Islands (men) and Samoa v Fiji (women) at Santos Stadium, Port Moresby
Week 2 – October 21-22
New Zealand v Samoa (men) and New Zealand v Tonga (women) at Eden Park, Auckland
Fiji v Cook Islands (men) and PNG v Cook Islands (women) at Santos Stadium, Port Moresby
Week 3 – October 28-29
Australia v New Zealand (men and women) at AAMI Park, Melbourne
PNG v Fiji (men) at Santos Stadium, Port Moresby
Week 4 – November 4-5
The Final of the men’s Pacific Cup tournament on November 4 in Hamilton, New Zealand
The Final of the men’s Pacific Bowl tournament on November 5 at Santos Stadium, Port Moresby