RLIF confirm the return of the Lions

The Lions will make their long-awaited return after the Rugby Leauge International Federation confirmed plans for a 2019 tour.

The international governing body today confirmed the next four-year calendar for international events, which features the return of tours for both the Lions and the Kangaroos.

The four-year cycle features a New Zealand tour to Europe and an Emerging Nations championship in 2018, followed by a Lions Tour to the Southern Hemisphere in 2019, and a Kangaroos Tour to Europe in 2020. The Kangaroos Tour will feature at least three Test matches against England and one Test against France.

The final year of the next cycle, 2021, will feature the Rugby League Men’s and Women’s World Cups in the UK.

RLIF Chairman Nigel Wood commented: “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.”

When the Lions do return in 2019, it will end a 23-year wait since they last went on tour in 1996, a 3-0 series defeat to New Zealand.

Additionally, the Board determined that 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.