The Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) has welcomed the success of the mid-year international window. There have been fantastic games played right across the world at three of the four current World Cup disciplines, men’s, women’s and wheelchair.
“We have witnessed another wonderful weekend of international rugby league, men’s, women’s and wheelchair” said Nigel Wood the Chief Executive Officer of the RLIF
“The weekend demonstrated, once again that international rugby league is valued by players and spectators alike. There is no higher honour than being asked to represent your country and the pride and passion on display simple re-iterates that international rugby league is on the march.”
The RLIF Oceania Cup got off to a tremendous start with over 23,000 Tonga and Kiwi fans generating an incredible atmosphere inside Auckland’s Mount Smart Stadium. The Kiwis head the competition after they defeated Tonga in game one. In the Trophy section of the Oceania Cup, Samoa defeated the PNG Kumuls to head their group as they chase promotion to the top group for 2020.
On Friday evening, Cook Islands defeated South Africa Rhinos in a qualifier for RLWC2021 and now move on to the final qualification game on November 16th when they will face the USA Hawks in Jacksonville, Florida.
The USA Hawks travelled to Kingston, Jamaica to face the Reggae Boys, who have already qualified for the World Cup in a friendly fixture. Jamaica just won by 26 – 24 in match that is great preparation for the domestic players of both nations.
Fiji Bati overcame a strong challenge from the Lebanon Cedars team which provided the perfect warm up for their Oceania Cup games at the end of the year.
The women’s game also took a great step forward as a record number of full international matches were played this weekend.
The New Zealand Ferns once again showed just how powerful they are as they defeated Samoa, who made a welcome return to the international scene. Fiji began their preparation by over-turning a really powerful and committed PNG Orchids team and in Lignano, Italy the home team started their campaign by defeating Serbia who were having their first ever outing.
The planning for RLWC2021 Wheelchair competition also started to hot up when world number two team, England travelled to world number one team, France for a two-game series. England took the first game 31 – 25 which is a real boost to their preparation.
RLIF Chief Executive Officer Nigel Wood, summed up the international weekend saying
“The RLIF Oceania Cup got off to a tremendous start, with the New Zealand beating Tonga in front of a near sell-out crowd at Mount Smart. Once again, the Tongan supporters created a magnificent and colourful spectacle that will have resonated around the world.
“Women’s international rugby league took a major leap forward with impressive wins for NZ over Samoa, and Fiji over PNG which bodes well for the introduction of an Oceania Women’s Cup next season.
“Wheelchair Rugby League, which is a great spectacle, is developing into a fascinating and compelling competition around the world.
“Finally, I would like to add my congratulations to a very powerful Cook Islands team that progressed in the RLWC2021 qualification process at the expense of South Africa, who played with great pride and resolve.”