Great Britain Lions tour of Australia and New Zealand 'a possibility' says Nigel Wood

By Dave WoodsBBC rugby league correspondent
Great Britain Lions in 2007
Great Britain Lions beat New Zealand 3-0 in their 2007 series

A first Great Britain Lions tour in more than a decade is edging closer, says Rugby League International Federation chairman Nigel Wood.

A meeting in Sydney this week could pave the way for the Lions to tour the southern hemisphere in 2019.

Wood said: "That would be for matches against Australia, New Zealand and other nations. It's a real possibility.

"It's not a foregone conclusion, but I wouldn't be having this discussion if I didn't have a degree of confidence."

The Lions last played in a series against New Zealand in 2007. England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland have since played under their own banners.

Wood told BBC Radio 5 live's rugby league podcast he is travelling to Australia for the meeting he hopes will confirm the international calendar for the three years between this year's World Cup in Australia and the 2021 tournament in England.

The plans include a tour by New Zealand to Britain in 2018, the Lions tour in 2019 and the iconic Kangaroos visiting Britain in 2020.

Wood also wants to see more matches between Tier 2 nations, such as Scotland, Wales, Ireland and the Pacific countries, and the big three of Australia, New Zealand and England.

Late-gasp try earns Scotland draw with NZ

"We want to give them access to playing against England, Australia and New Zealand," said Wood, who is also chief executive of the Rugby Football League.

"We saw last year, for example, how spectacularly well Scotland did. But France have only played against Australia once in the last 10 years.

"There's a log-jam in terms of the aspirant nations that we're trying to improve and get stronger and put more quality and depth in the World Cup."

Wood said the aim was to "improve standards" and "deliver more compelling entertainment".

"The reality is that, for too long, there's only been two or three contenders," he said. "The aim is to grow nations four to eight, and then four to 12.

"People should remind themselves the Rugby Union World Cup didn't start until 1987 and they had similar number of nations, possibly a few more.

"But it's now the third biggest tournament in terms of global reach after the Olympics and the football World Cup.

"We've got to start making that progress."

Top Stories


Elsewhere on the BBC