A Kangaroo tour in 2022 has been proposed after the cancellation of this year’s three-Test series against England due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ARL Commission and RFL have confirmed the Ashes series scheduled to be played at University of Bolton Stadium, Elland Rd in Leeds and Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in October and November would not go ahead.
With the NRL grand final having moved to October 25, followed by a three-week State of Origin series and the Super League season also needing to be extended, as well as doubts about global travel, it was agreed to cancel the first Kangaroos tour since 2003.
However, the RFL and the ARLC remain committed to the revival of Ashes series contests, which began in 1908 and have been played 39 times.
With the World Cup in England in 2021, discussions have already been opened on the potential for the Kangaroos returning for a three-Test Ashes series, possibly as soon as 2022.
"We have already indicated to the ARLC that we would be keen to welcome them for a three-Test series at any time in the future and will now work together to make this happen as soon as possible," RFL CEO Ralph Rimmer said.
Episode 5 - Dylan Brown and Andrew Abdo
NRL acting CEO Andrew Abdo was also optimistic about rescheduling the tour.
"It is disappointing that the historic Kangaroos tour to the UK can no longer take place in 2020. We look forward to the Rugby League World Cup in 2021 and hopefully a tour to the UK by the Kangaroos in a future season," he said.
Rimmer said the decision to cancel this year’s Ashes series and Kangaroo tour had been made with great reluctance but there was little choice.
"The current circumstances have had a seismic impact on rugby league, as on all other sports, and we all now need to give, in order to find solutions for the greater and longer term good of the game," he said.
"After regular discussions with the ARLC over the last few months, combined with those within our domestic competitions, we have concluded that the right thing to do for the game as a whole is to make this decision now.
"It will have a considerable impact on the finances of rugby league here in England, as we were banking on a significant boost from Australia’s first full tour since 2003.
"I know our England players, our new head coach Shaun Wane and his support staff are bitterly disappointed, and the same goes for the thousands of supporters who had already bought tickets for the matches, as well as our major England sponsors Dacia, Ronseal and Hummel, and our broadcast partner the BBC.
"I’m sure the same will apply in Australia, as it has been so heartening for supporters of the international game to hear Mal Meninga speaking of the importance of the great rugby league traditions of Kangaroo tours and the Ashes.
"With the Rugby League World Cup in England in 2021, we will have the opportunity to see the green and golds playing again in this country for the first time since the 2016 Four Nations series.
"But we remain committed to a worthwhile international calendar for our senior England teams (men, women & wheelchair) to build on the legacy that next year’s Rugby League World Cup will create and the Rugby League Ashes would be a fantastic part of any meaningful international calendar in the future."