The British and Irish Lions rugby league tour down under in 2019 is back on following a two-day meeting of the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) delegates in Singapore.
A commitment to reinstate the Lions tours was made by the Rugby Football League last year but thrown into doubt by a recent counter-proposal from Australia, who instead wanted the Kangaroos to tour the UK in 2019.
However, the RLIF says it has brokered an agreement for the Lions to tour the southern hemisphere in 2019 and 2024, while the Kangaroos will tour the UK in 2020 and New Zealand will follow up this year’s tour with a similar visit to the UK in 2022.
The RLIF board says it has agreed to undertake consultation with stakeholders to finalise details for the next two four-year cycles to present to a planned World rugby League Congress in the UK in November.
They're back!— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) July 30, 2018
For the first time in 12 years a British and Irish Lions rugby league side will compete against teams from the southern hemisphere.
More: https://t.co/60vlfTLFBz pic.twitter.com/Xu3qaxP8my
Key elements of the new calendar include:
– Rugby League World Cup in 2021 and 2025
– Kangaroos Tour to UK in 2020
– Kiwi Tour to UK in 2018 and 2022
– Lions tour to southern hemisphere in 2019 and 2024
– Nines World Cup in 2019 and 2023
– 2019 Championships for the Pacific nations in a mid and end of season
– 2018 European Championship (and then at two-year intervals)
– 2018 Australia v New Zealand Test (annually to 2022)
“There’s clearly still some detail to be finalised but this is a fantastic announcement that has been a long time coming,” said RLIF chairman John Grant.
“It should give great heart and confidence to our international community.
“It reflects the broad diversity that exists across our RLIF member nations and we believe it can provide the certainty our fans, players and commercial stakeholders need to make long-term commitments to international rugby league.”
The Lions Tour is back on! Full details of the international calendar here after the RLIF meeting in Singapore over the weekend.https://t.co/qULhDG5ZDf— League Express (@leagueexpress) July 30, 2018
The Kangaroos tour in 2020 will delight the Rugby Football League, who wanted a high-profile international programme that year to increase interest in the 2021 World Cup to be held in England.
However, there is no confirmation in the draft plan for England’s annual mid-season Test in the United States.
The international against New Zealand in Denver in June was part of a three-year agreement with Australian promoter Jason Moore to which the RFL say it remains committed.
The match went ahead despite opposition from the NRL and the Australian players association over player welfare issues and the RLIF has agreed to hold a review into the process and criteria it applies to sanctioning international matches.
“The Denver Test exposed all of us alike to this performance standard and has been a positive catalyst for this review,” said RLIF chief executive Nigel Wood, the former RFL chief executive.
The board will also work on proposals for governance reform and agreed a range of constitutional changes to be brought before a general meeting in the UK in November.
The summit in Singapore was attended by RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer and chairman Brian Barwick, who stepped down from the board after four and a half years.
Basketball Australia’s chief revealed the players feared for their safety after a mass brawl with the Philippines in Monday’s World Cup qualifier.
Players of both nations exchanged flying kicks and punches where 13 were ejected following the melee. It came after a Philippines player appeared to catch an opponent with an elbow.
Speaking in a press conference on Tuesday, Basketball Australia’s chief executive Anthony Moore said: “We had our players and team management and our coaches in fear of their physical safety. Are we going to be able to get out of here unscathed?”
The visitors kept their players and coaches courtside after the game and sought help from the Australian embassy to get the team safely out to their bus and their hotel.
“Our athletes and coaches actually stayed on the court for a considerable amount of time, (it was) the safest place for our players and our coaches,” he added.
FIBA confirmed both Australia and the Philippines will receive punishments.
Cameron was not offered an early plea for his elbow on Andrews in Saturday’s match at the Gabba, won by GWS 109-82, with the match review committee deciding he will face the tribunal on Tuesday night.
Andrews was hospitalised as a result of the incident and is being closely monitored.
He was rushed to hospital in the hours following Saturday’s 27-point loss having copped an elbow to the chin in an incident that caused uproar across Australia. (See it for yourself below.)
Cameron never looked a chance of winning the ball when he came in from behind at a marking contest and struck Andrews, who was moving back with the flight of the ball, with a raised forearm.
The match review panel classified that the incident was “intentional conduct, severe impact and high contact”.
Cameron is expected to be suspended for at least four matches.
“We watched the incident from all angles and came up with the view that it was to be graded intentional, on that basis that a raised forearm or elbow is usually conclusive that a strike is intentional,” said match review officer Michael Christian.
The Lions confirmed in a statement that: “Andrews was admitted to hospital late Saturday night after his condition worsened. After undergoing tests and scans, he was discharged and returned home Sunday evening.”
“Throughout this time the Lions Medical Staff have been in constant consultation with a neurosurgeon, who will re-assess Andrews in two weeks’ time.
“The Club will follow standard protocols around concussion this week and will regularly monitor Andrews’ condition.
“Our discussions with the neurosurgeon have been encouraging as they expect Harris to make a full recovery,” said General Manager of Football David Noble.
“He will have a follow-up scan in two weeks’ time, when we will know more.”
Andrews, just 21, needed four stitches to repair a cut on his chin from the collision but was said to be in good spirits once he returned to consciousness and even made an appearance on Brisbane’s bench before half-time.
He also approached Cameron after the full-time siren but took a turn for the worse later that night and was rushed to hospital.