Tonga will play New Zealand and Fiji this year in the second Oceania Cup after a terrific inaugural edition last year where Tonga Invitational XIII made history defeating Australia and Great Britain.
The Asia Pacific Rugby League Confederation made the announcement earlier this week listing the line-up of teams in two pools which will see six exciting International Rugby League matches.
Pool A features the New Zealand Kiwis, Tonga Invitational XIII, and Fiji Bati. Whereas Pool B features the Cook Islands, Toa Samoa, and the Papua New Guinea Kumuls.
The Australian Kangaroos, who won the cup last year, won’t be in the tournament as they will face England in a three-test series.
The first event will be a mid-season June double header with the NZ Kiwis taking on Tonga Invitational XIII, and Toa Samoa playing the Cook Islands.
The next two double headers is scheduled for October at the end of the NRL season where Tonga Invitational XIII play Fiji Bati, and Toa Samoa take on the PNG Kumuls.
And the final double header sees NZ Kiwis play Fiji Bati, and PNG Kumuls play the Cook Islands.
The Pacific Test, normally played in Sydney in recent years has been incorporated into the Oceania Cup. The Cup also serves as excellent preparation for Rugby League World Cup 2021 to be held in England.
The International Rugby League (formerly known as the Rugby League International Federation) and the Asia Pacific Rugby League (APRL) regards the Oceania Cup as one of their key strategic initiatives to grow the game and give Pacific nations regular and high-quality competition.
Sandis Tsaka, the Chair of the APRL and also Chairman of Papua New Guinea Rugby League, said it is particularly satisfying to be able to give the Pacific nations competitive matches after their key role in the revitalisation of International Rugby League in recent years.
Greg Peters, deputy Chair of the APRL and CEO of New Zealand Rugby League, said the international game has probably never been more competitive than it is in 2020 following the ground-breaking inaugural Oceania Cup in 2019.
Jeremy Edwards, General Manager Southern Hemisphere IRL, said this year’s tournament will once again produce some enthralling contents, thrilling action and unforgettable atmospheres that fans across the region can enjoy.”
“The tournament is a vital aspect of growing International Rugby League in what is a critically important region for us. With that in mind we will be looking to expand the tournament in the future to include a Women’s Oceania Cup and matches for both emerging nations and youth teams.”
The dates and locations of the three Oceania Cup double headers will be announced in the near future.