Rugby league bosses plan Lions tour to southern hemisphere

England's Jermaine McGillivray attempts to break through a tackle against Australia
England's Jermaine McGillivray attempts to break through a tackle against Australia
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A RUGBY league Lions tour will take place in 2019, it has been confirmed.

The international calendar for the next four years was announced at a meeting of the board of the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) in Sydney.

Next year will see a New Zealand tour to Europe and an Emerging Nations championship, followed by a Lions Tour to the southern hemisphere in 2019 and a Kangaroos visit to Europe in 2020.

Though the statement from the RLIF did not mention Great Britain, the Lions will play tours to the southern hemisphere under that name, with England taking on Australia and New Zealand in this country.

The RLIF confirmed the Kangaroos Tour in two years’ time will feature at least three Test matches against England and one against France.

The final year of the next cycle, 2021, will feature men’s and women’s World Cups in the United Kingdom.

Qualification for World Cups will be concluded two years prior to each event with the qualifiers for the 2021 World Cup in England to be completed by December 2019.

To support the development of tier two nations, the RLIF will work with the continental federations to strengthen existing regional competitions in Europe, Asia Pacific, the Americas and Middle East/Africa.

The RLIF also authorised the creation a dedicated mid-season international weekend.

The RLIF board will look into the business case for international nines competitions, with the possibility of men’s and women’s world cups in 2019 and for both youth and women’s nines to be included as part of the Commonwealth Games Festival next year.

RLIF chairman Nigel Wood said: “Today's RLIF board made significant progress across a number of vitally important topics for international rugby league.

“Most importantly we resolved a cohesive calendar for international rugby league for the period through 2021.

“I am sure supporters will welcome the reintroduction of Lions, Kangaroos and Kiwi tours in particular, but the calendar provides new opportunities for all our members and embraced the expansion of nines, providing an exciting future for players, supporters and members alike.”