AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 13: Daly Cherry-Evans of Australia looks on with Damien Cook of Australia during the international Rugby League Test Match between the New Zealand Kiwis and the Australia Kangaroos at Mt Smart Stadium on October 13, 2018 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

International rugby league is due to have a change with Australia, New Zealand and Tonga all about to play in a first tri-nation series which would see the last placed country relegated and play other Pacific nations.

The proposal will be be presented by the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) at a conference in Auckland on Friday, according to the Daily Telegraph.

The RLIF’s plans include:

  • Australia, New Zealand and Tonga to be in one conference.
  • Samoa, PNG and Fiji in another conference.
  • A Test between New Zealand and Tonga while State of Origin is on.
  • A mid year Test between Samoa PNG or Fiji.
  • Australia to face New Zealand and Tonga at the end of next year.
  • Samoa, Fiji and PNG to have played against each other before 2020.
  • The winner will be decided on a round robin points system.
  • The bottom placed team in Australia’s group will be dropped down whilst the team who comes first in Samoa’s group will be promoted the next time these tournaments are held.

Representatives from all six nations will consider the proposal which could see Australia or New Zealand relegated as Tonga continues to get stronger and are on the verge of becoming an international powerhouse.

RLIF chief executive Nigel Wood states that this is the first element of a five-year international calendar.

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“Most people would agree international rugby league is capable of doing more,” Wood said.

“Right now represents a terrific opportunity to work with all the stakeholders in the game. What today is about is the Pacific Island nations reviewing the potential “Oceania Cup” to see if that meets their needs.

“There is a lot of consultation which still needs to happen. We know we have to go back and speak to clubs.

“It’s about taking advantage of an opportunity most people should happen in rugby league and deliver an international calendar which is compelling.

“The game is ready to talk about what international rugby league could look like. This is the first part of the consultation process.”

Great Britain’s international team are set to tour New Zealand next year but will not play the Kangaroos.

Australia will play Tonga for the first time on Saturday as the Kiwi’s and Tonga haven’t played since last year’s unbelievable World Cup where Tonga shocked the world and defeated the Kiwi’s in the group stage.

“International rugby league is one of the greatest opportunities the sport has,” Wood said.

“It is underdeveloped and capable of a lot more. When we showcase it, people are full of admiration.

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“There is plenty of scope for improvement.”

The matches played in New Zealand will help aid the governing body who are in a dangerous financial state. Last Saturday’s match against Australia had 10,000 people while Saturday’s game is a sellout.

“They have had a difficult two years,” Wood said.

“They are emerging out of that. Their leadership is good and I have a lot of confidence under the leadership of Greg Peters (new chief executive) will go from strength to strength. Of all of the big nations New Zealand does not have a domestic competition so they need international rugby league more than anybody.”


      • Are you 3 serious! We’ve lost one game, by 2 points, with all the stats against us and with basically a whole new team. Please calm down. DCE played fairly well behind a well beaten forward pack with no field position.

        • I agree with both of u…….
          Yes DCE did play fairly well BUT he doesn’t belong in that Kangaroos team, obviously he got picked because Maloney was unavailable but looking ahead to the future I do think they should look to a Munster/Cleary halves pairing.
          As for Meninga, if he continues to make stupid picks like Macguire and Woods!!! Then he’s gotta go, people may ask “then who do u pick if not Woods and Macguire” my answer “ANYONE ELSE!”

        • Replacing woods and McGuire is so easy, even with all the ineligible players from injury, RCG for woods and arrow for macguire…
          Dce does deserve his spot, besides there is no one else, Cleary didn’t do much in origin this year and that was with being partnered with Maloney.
          Way things are travelling Munster won’t be aloud to play nrl soon let alone kangaroos, there is big rumours of him really playing up at the moment..
          Like all halves they need the pack going forward which this pack just isn’t and won’t. They will get absolutely man handled this weekend by lolo, fifita, Pangai Jnr, AFB, ofahengaue…
          Tonga is only a good half away from being the top nation around at the moment…
          People have to remeber with Thurston, Cronk, Smith, slater all going all at once these other blokes have never played each other and probably never even met each other in some instances, they need time to gel..

        • You’re kidding, that scoreline flattered Australia, Kiwi’s clocked off with 10 minutes left and it was 26-6. Austfalia were rubbish. Doesn’t mean they won’t bounce back, but with the big 4 gone, it’s a young team and will need time to gel

        • West, you have no clue. Woods is far better than rcg and was one of our best and only forwards having a go. Hes a bench forward and averaged over 30 more meters per game to rcg this year and before this year was hitting 150m every year. And as for McGuire hes constantly proven hes an elite forwards. Pull your head out of your ass and actually watch the game and see how much those 2 blokes put in week in week out. Stop just jumping on the bandwagon and following the crowd. As for Mal hes achieved everything in the game and is a brilliant coach. 100% guarantee he knows more than you

        • daffy, I think we were 12 at half time mate. I don’t agree that the Kiwis clocked off. We finally had a bit of possession and managed to hold the ball that’s what happened. Have a look at the tackle counts during the game. We defended well. To be in front at half time was all due to our defence cause we barely got out of our own half and the possession was well in the kiwis favour for the whole game.

        • Bluecastle. Woods is an honest trier mate. But we need some fire from our big men in test matches. I can’t remember the last time Woods put a on big hit at any level. Can you? Nappa would be a better option and Frizzel needs more minutes, he’s an animal.

  1. I hate to be a cynic, but this is one of the dumbest ideas I have heard. The most likely option is that Tonga come last, which means they are then relegated at a time when they are growing and need to be given more opportunities. To move them back would be a step or two backwards.

    Then if either Australia or NZ were demoted they wold just completely dominate every team in the second tier. I can’t imagine many Australian supporters being pumped to watch Australia smash Fiji 60 – 10. And then after one term in the second tier either Aus or NZ would be back in the top tier with the other promoted team back where they started.

    Say NZ gets relegated and Australia are dominant against Tonga, they would belt the other promoted team and again the strength of the top tier is diminished.

    The international game isn’t competitive enough to have a relegation/promotion system going on. There’s much better ways to grow the game and giving Tonga more matches against the three top tier 1 teams is a good start. I would love to see another four nations comp and have Tonga included.

    • Hopefully there is someone with as much common sense as yourself there when the decisions are made. Everything you have written is on the mark. Thank you for providing a well thought out constructive comment when most of the other stuff going on on this site is complete gibberish.

      • I think the idea had merit, but needs tweaking..
        Those tier 2 nations are only going to improve by getting more of a chance to play the top teams.
        Look at Fiji in works cup, these countries have no funding and minimal support, playing too teams only helps with all that.
        I think the realisation that Australia would come 3rd Is what people are worried about, but if they do rugby league is plenty big and secure enough to handle a season in tier 2, and will in turn promoting the game in these smaller countries..
        Just my opinion

        • What they really need is for the eligibility rules to be tightened and for player payments to be evened out somewhat. Tonga have’t improved because they have had the chance to play the top tier teams more, they improved on the back of Taumalolo and Fifita choosing to play for them, if that didn’t happen we wouldn’t even be having this discussion.

        • Eels your correct lolo and fifita have changed it all, but it’s started a discussion now and if those players are going to play for their birth right countries we’ll is a good time to change the whole set up, money eligibility all of it.
          Maybe some of these bigger name players have only ever played for aus or nz as the money was needed, so if they can even all that up, we’ll tier 2 teams will get stronger. But the rules need to be set in stone not pick and choose when you want too…

        • Definitely agree. And until that stuff is sorted properly i don’t think a tiered system is the answer. Maybe later, but not yet.

  2. why does there have to be a tier 1 and tier 2? Does any other international sport have that same setup where only 3 countries are classed as the top tier and therefore receive all the benefits that AUS, NZL and ENG currently enjoy?
    Just rank them like cricket, rugby and so on and each team have the same rights as each other and eligibility is not determined by what a player feels today.
    But we know why its setup this way? Who effectively runs the RLIF? AUS, NZL and ENG.

    • I was thinking why can only 3 teams be tier 1, but now I agree with you – why have tiers at all when you only need rankings?

      • “why have tiers at all”

        Try Johnsons ‘no more tears’ baby shampoo. Now THAT’s a WittyReference. 😂😂😂

    • remember the tier 1 nations effectively have choice of players over the others….so why should the stronger nations get those benefits?

  3. Get rid of the tiers all together and encourage players to represent their own nations like Fafita and Taumalolo have from the start of their careers.
    and for a real crazy idea: make QLD and NSW compete as nations. THAT would be interesting.

  4. Who was the Idiot who thought up this Rubbish?

    Australia, NZ and Tonga should all remain in the First-Tier Regardless!

    RLIF chief executive Nigel Wood, you are a dead set brainless waste of space!

  5. I’d like to see a relegation system based around the world cup. Field at least 16 teams then every 4 years have a world cup then groups of 4 based on how they finish who then play 4 nations style competition who can be relegated to 2nd tier etc. So say we have Australia New Zealand England and tonga in tier 1 after their position in the world cup the next year they play a round Robin which may end in this order 1 aus 2 nz 3 Tonga 4 eng. So then England and maybe Tonga as well would play 1st and maybe 2nd of tier 2 for a spot in the first tier. The same would happen across all the tiers

  6. Not the best plan but at least they are looking at more international games. Go with ranks instead of tiers.

    Just for sh!t stirring – funny how fools on here are blaming Meninga, McGuire & DCE instead of the 11 NSW players in the team. Meninga coached plenty of Qld’ers to wins… hahaha

    I would swap Tommy T for Peachy in the centers and Woods for RCG. I hate using backs as utilities so would have said Hunt should go but that payed off in the first game.

  7. Tonga should have been ranked secondin world Rugby League already only for the ridiculous no try to Fifita that allowed England into the World Cup Final. I will even go a futher step and if Tonga defeat Australia I would be ranking Tonga the number one team in the World. 🎱🎱🎱🎱🎱🎱🎱🎱🎱🎱🎱

    • WoodChook, really?
      If you’re “fishing”, well you caught an eel, but if you think Tonga should be ranked no. 1 (if they beat Australia tomorrow) or 2 anyway, well that looks a lot like the extent to which to follow RL is checking full time scores.
      Obviuosly winning is the desired outcome, and a measure, the best measure in fact, over statistically relevant periods, and assuming all things being equal, but on a short term timeframe, especially when all things aren’t equal (injured players for example) basing world rankings on a single game, or 2, without looking deeper, and thereby effectively basing rankings on singular full time scores, has a few flaws (just quietly).

    • I have to agree with Woody though mighty. The Tongan boys were robbed by that no try decision against England (they didn’t even look at it) because the NRL had already printed the tickets with Australia vs England. Just like they printed the Grand Final tickets with the Storm vs the Roosters at the start of the 2018 season, isn’t that right old chook? 😉

      • I think you’re missing the point.
        Irrespective of a try/no try decision/s that can affect a game’s outcome, is the Tongan side genuinely world no.1 or 2?
        They’ve obviuosly improved out of sight over the past year or so, since Fifita, JT13 etc started playing for them, and good on them for that, but they still have a way to go. For example, their halves are struggling to get spots in the starting 13 at club level.
        I think they’ve now made it to competitive top 4, and I don’t necessarily mean 4th, but rather there are now 4 top level teams.

      • Your Half right Reggie, they printed the Melbourne grand final tickets but the Roosters had to earn their way there this year, injuries (Cronk), penalty counts, rule changes (Slater’s let off), suspensions during the semis (Mitchell & Napa), the odds were against them yet they prevailed. Most Premiership winning teams get all the luck fall into place for them at the right time of year but not so with this Mighty Rooster team of 2018, Thanks Russell Crowe.💪😎👍✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔

        • Which grand final penalty count? 2018 penalties Storm 10 Roosters 7, 2013 penalty count Manly win plus a penalty try. What more can I say, Just in case you missed it, A PENALTY TRY TO MANLY. That’s right awarded by your stitched up refs trying to get Manly home.🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

  8. Doesnt matter what Tonga wins. it’s just Australia, New Zealand winning any way.
    If most of the Tongan team weren’t born , raised, learned / played all their league here? Then they were born, raised in New Zealand & learned the game here.
    Also paid to play here in the NRL.
    Maybe they should wear black, gold & green as their colours?

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