The Kangaroos’ three-test Ashes series against England has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Both the ARL Commission and RFL have confirmed that the series in October and November will not go ahead.
A loaded NRL schedule in October and November, including the NRL Grand Final on October 25, a three-game State of Origin series in November as well as the Super League season needing to be extended and doubts over international travel are the main reasons for the cancellation.
The tour would have been the Kangaroos’ first since 2003, with both sides remaining committed to reviving the Ashes series which has been played 39 times since 1908.
Discussions have already begun for a rescheduled tour, most likely as soon as 2022 due to England scheduled to host the Rugby League World Cup in 2021.
NRL acting CEO Andrew Abdo has said he is optimistic about a rescheduled 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 told NRL Media.
RFL CEO Ralph Rimmer has also expressed his desire to welcome the Kangaroos back for a rescheduled tour but also said that there was no other option to cancel this year’s matches.
“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.
“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.”
“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.”