England face rematch with Combined Nations All Stars in mid-season Test: Fixture to raise funds for victims of Tongan tsunami

England are to face Combined Nations All Stars in a mid-season rematch which will raise money for those affected by the recent tsunami in Tonga.

By Peter Smith
Saturday, 22nd January 2022, 11:00 am
Leeds Rhinos' Matt Prior played for Combined Nations All Stars against England last year. Picture by Paul Currie/SWpix.com.
Leeds Rhinos' Matt Prior played for Combined Nations All Stars against England last year. Picture by Paul Currie/SWpix.com.

The All Stars, a team drawn from Betfred Super League and Championship players qualifying for any other nation, beat England 26-24 at Warrington’s HJ Stadium last June.

For that fixture the All Stars wore a jersey designed in tribute to Mose Masoe, the former Hull KR and Samoa forward whose career was ended by a spinal injury in early 2020, with proceeds from replica sales raising funds for his Foundation.

The RFL said in a statement: “Given the devastating impact of the recent volcanic eruption and tsunami on the Tonga archipelago - and the strong influence and popularity of players of Tongan descent in rugby league generally and specifically in the Northern Hemisphere - the RFL have agreed with [kit supplier] OXEN, Rugby League Cares and the recently-formed Pacific Islands Rugby League Group to dedicate the 2022 All Stars jersey to the people of Tonga.”

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Doncaster chief executive and former Leeds player Carl Hall is chairman of the Pacific Islands Rugby League Group and will continue as team manager for the All Stars this year.

He said: “This is a great gesture from the RFL, Rugby League Cares and OXEN Sports.

“Tonga has become such a force in rugby league in recent years, with their incredible run to the semi-finals of the last World Cup in 2017 and there have been so many great players of Tongan descent who have come over to play with English or French clubs.

“We’ve all seen the terrible and frightening scenes since the volcanic explosion, with some players anxiously awaiting news of their relatives.

“I know a lot of rugby league clubs and supporters will want to find a way of showing their solidarity with the Tongan people over the coming days, weeks and months.

“It will be an honour and a privilege for us to do our bit when the Combined Nations All Stars come together to face England this summer.”

The fixture will be played on the weekend of June 17-19, when there are no Super League matches, but a venue has not yet been announced.

The RFL says there will also be mid-season internationals England Women and Wheelchair sides as all three teams prepare for the postponed World Cup 2021 to be held this autumn.

Lee Jenkinson, chief executive of Elite Pro Sports/OXEN, said: “As soon as we saw the scenes of the tsunami in Tonga - and knowing how big Tonga is in rugby league - we realised this would be a worthy successor to Mose in terms of a good cause for the All Stars to support in 2022.

“We’ll be making sure there is a strong Tongan presence in the jerseys, working with Carl Hall and the Pacific Islands Rugby League Group."

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