Pacific international matches set to light up the International Mid-Season Weekend
International Rugby League returns to the Southern Hemisphere
New Zealand will face Tonga at Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland in both men’s and women’s senior international matches on June 25th, 2022. This will be the first senior international match played by either nation since the start of the global pandemic.
On the same weekend, the Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) will host games between Samoa and Cook Islands followed by Papua New Guinea against Fiji. These matches will also be played on June 25th at Campbelltown Stadium in Sydney.
Troy Grant, Chair of International Rugby League (IRL) has welcomed the news saying
“It’s great to be able to give the players from the Pacific nations time together ahead of the World Cup. We are also really excited to have the chance to kick start and rejuvenate international rugby league in the Southern Hemisphere after the impact of the pandemic.
“There has been little opportunity to play international matches for more than two years and we know how passionate the players from the Cook Islands, Fiji, Samoa, PNG, New Zealand and Tonga are about representing their country.
“We are very grateful to the ARLC, NRL, clubs and each of the nations involved for their support and contribution towards what is an important and significant weekend for international rugby league.”
ARLC Chair, Peter Vlandys commented, “The Pacific Test matches will be vital for these nations as they prepare for the World cup later this year and importantly, for fans, a chance to watch their heroes live in their national colours. The passion of the Pacific nations and their fans is something unique to rugby league.
“This is a part of a long-term plan to grow the international game in conjunction with IRL and members countries.
“We’ve seen the growth and success of Tonga in recent years, and we want to capitalise on the potential depth of our test playing nation”
NRL Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Abdo said, “To have State of Origin and senior international matches across one round for the final time before we enter a new cycle from 2023 of a dedicated international window in October is exciting.”