Great Britain and Irish Lions to tour New Zealand in 2019

Great Britain during the 2006 Tri-Nations
Great Britain players line up during the 2006 Tri-Nations

The first Great Britain and Irish Lions tour in more than a decade will take place in 2019, the Rugby League International Federation has confirmed.

After this year's World Cup, the Lions will travel to the southern hemisphere between tours of Europe by New Zealand in 2018 and Australia in 2020.

There will be no Four Nations - with England, Australia, New Zealand and a fourth side - until at least 2022.

The Lions last played in 2007 in a series against New Zealand.

The team was disbanded after the 3-0 whitewash of the touring Kiwis which preceded the 2008 World Cup.

England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland have since played under their own banners. England will continue to do so for World Cups and incoming tours.

The Kangaroos tour in 2020 will feature at least three Test matches against England and one Test against France.

RLIF chairman Nigel Wood said: "I am sure supporters will welcome the re-introduction of Lions, Kangaroos and Kiwi tours in particular but the calendar provides new opportunities for all our members and embraces the expansion of Nines, providing an exciting future for players, supporters and members alike."

As part of the new four-year cycle, announced following an RLIF meeting in Sydney, the sport's governing body announced:

  • An Emerging Nations Championship in 2018 leading up the 2021 World Cup which will be hosted by the Rugby Football League in the UK.
  • World Cup qualification will be concluded two years in advance, with the line-up for 2021 to be completed by December 2019.
  • A pledge to support the development of tier-two nations, those outside the big three, by working with continental federations to strengthen existing regional competitions in Europe, Asia Pacific, the Americas and Middle East/Africa.
  • A commitment to putting together a business plan for international Nines with the potential for a World Cup for men and women in 2019 and for both youth and women's nines to become a part of the Commonwealth Games Festival in 2018.
  • The creation of a dedicated mid-season international weekend, giving nations an opportunity to build on the success of this year's Pacific Test Series in Sydney.

The history of the Lions goes back to 1908 when they were defeated 2-1 by the touring Kiwis. The first Great Britain tour of the southern hemisphere took place in 1910

RLIF four-year cycle calendar:

2018 New Zealand tour of Europe

2018 Emerging Nations championship

2019 Great British and Irish Lions tour of southern hemisphere

2020 Australia tour of Europe

2021 Rugby League Men's and Women's World Cups

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