A major revamp of the international calendar will see the Kiwis play in an Oceania Cup next year before hosting the British Lions during their southern hemisphere tour.

A rolling calendar of matches for the next eight years was today approved in principle by the Rugby League International Federation Board during a Congress meeting in York.

The Oceania Cup proposal will see New Zealand play in one group together with Australia and Tonga, with Samoa, Fiji and Papua New Guinea in the other group.

The nations also agreed that the Great Britain Rugby League Lions will tour down under to face the Kiwis, Tonga, Samoa, Fiji and Papua New Guinea, again subject to consultation with the major playing leagues and the players' representatives.


Another big development has Australia in line to host the 2019 RLIF Nines World Cup which feature both men's and women's competitions.

The new programme will be punctuated every four years with the World Cup and will include the repeat of the Oceania Cup in 2020 and 2022 which will mirror the European Championship in the Northern Hemisphere. There remains space for the bilateral arrangement of games and tours by individual nations.

"We are delighted to have the support of the RLIF and member nations for a significant calendar of rugby league events in New Zealand," said New Zealand Rugby League CEO Greg Peters.

"This will be the first time in the history of the sport that this number of international games has been hosted in New Zealand. We still have work to do, however, but we are very encouraged by the commitment of all parties to work towards making this a reality."

The RLIF board has also approved financial support for the Americas Championship and a new competition for nations in the Middle East and Africa, the MEA Championship. RLIF investment will be annual, commencing in 2019, underlining the strategic significance of and recent growth in these territories.

There are ongoing discussions to ensure that the programme for the women's game and for wheelchair rugby league are advanced at a similar rate to the men's game.

RLIF boss Nigel Wood welcomed the outcome saying: "The whole international rugby league world has looked to us to complete this important piece of work. The discussions this week have been extremely collaborative and positive.

"This is a complex process and if we can put all the pieces of the jig-saw into place we will have a very exciting programme.

"There is some further consultation to be undertaken with leagues and playing groups together with some important commercial evaluations before we could make final announcements, however we are confident that we can complete these discussions before Christmas."