Rugby League: Denver test faces axe as NRL proposes new international window

  • 13/07/2018
The NRL wants Pacific teams to get more regular international rugby league fixtures.
The NRL wants Pacific teams to get more regular international rugby league fixtures. Photo credit: Photosport

The NRL is proposing an overhaul of the international rugby league calendar that would see the controversial Denver test between New Zealand and England axed.

On Thursday, ARL Commission chairman Peter Beattie and NRL CEO Todd Greenberg announced a plan that they will take to the Rugby League International Federation in Singapore later this month.

The changes would see the launch of an Oceania Cup in 2019 between New Zealand, Fiji, Samoa and Tonga, to be played in the first weekend of June and then in October at the conclusion of the NRL season.

Crucially, it means the annual Denver test doesn't fit into the calendar if approved.

"A one-off test that goes nowhere, you think in the sense of that," Beattie said.              

"That was the problem with Denver.     

"You've got to think of something that fits into a competition. You've got to win something."     

There would also be two separate Four Nations tournaments that would take place in 2020, with Australia, New Zealand, Tonga and Samoa contesting an Oceania Polynesian competition, and England, France, Fiji and Papua New Guinea to feature in a European-based version.    

The following year (2021) sees England host a World Cup, before New Zealand host England in 2022, and Australia play the winner of a tournament between Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Samoa and Fiji.

The proposal also includes the return of the first Kangaroos tour of Great Britain since 2003 next year.

"A key to this proposal is we are giving emerging nations a chance to become genuine competitors with tier-one nations," Beattie said.

"This is about getting a State of Origin spirit amongst our new neighbours. Making sure we expand the game with the passion and enthusiasm we had at the World Cup."

Plans are also afoot for a new international Nines tournament at the end of next year at Parramatta, but that is yet to be confirmed.

Meanwhile, the ARLC said negotiations were ongoing for an end-of-year test between Australia and Tonga in 2018, as well as the planned round to kick off next year's NRL season in the United States.    

"Currently, we've got Australia playing NZ at the end of the year, but there is a strong appetite from a range of parties about Australia playing Tonga," NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg said.

"We're in discussions with a number of different promoters to do that."