The Asia Pacific Rugby League Confederation is delighted to announce the return of the Oceania Cup in 2020 after an outstanding inaugural edition last year provided so many historic moments.
In 2020, Pool A features world No.1 New Zealand Kiwis, the Tonga Invitational XIII, and 2019 Oceania Cup Shield champions Fiji Bati.
In Pool B, the Cook Islands, who recently qualified for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup, join Toa Samoa and the Papua New Guinea Kumuls.
The Kangaroos, who lifted the Oceania Cup in 2019, depart the tournament this year to face England in a three-Test series.
After a thrilling 2019 Oceania Cup in which the Tongan Invitational XIII beat Australia for the first time, fans can look forward to six exciting International Rugby League matches played over three doubleheaders.
The 2020 schedule will see a mid-season June doubleheader featuring NZ Kiwis taking on the Tonga Invitational XIII in what will be another epic battle, and Toa Samoa plays the Cook Islands.
The remaining two doubleheaders will be played in October at the conclusion of the NRL season. This will see Tonga Invitational XIII play Fiji and Toa Samoa take on the PNG Kumuls in a great celebration of the best of the Pacific. This will be followed by a third and final Oceania Cup doubleheader with NZ Kiwis vs Fiji and PNG Kumuls vs Cook Islands where the Oceania Cup (Pool A) and Oceania Shield (Pool B) will be decided.
The dates and locations of the three Oceania Cup doubleheaders will be announced in the coming weeks.
This year will also see the Pacific Test, which was played in Sydney in recent years, incorporated into the Oceania Cup to ensure a consistent tournament structure for the Pacific.
The Oceania Cup is one of the key strategic initiatives of both the International Rugby League (formerly known as the Rugby League International Federation) and the Asia Pacific Rugby League (APRL) to grow the game and give Pacific nations regular and high-quality competition.
This initiative is particularly important as excellent preparation for Rugby League World Cup 2021 which takes place in England.
Sandis Tsaka, the Chair of the APRL and also Chairman of Papua New Guinea Rugby League, said: “The Oceania Cup in 2020 will be a fantastic tournament that will once again capture the imagination of fans across the Pacific.”
“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 groundbreaking inaugural Oceania Cup in 2019.”
Jeremy Edwards, General Manager Southern Hemisphere IRL, said: “We’re delighted to be announcing the Oceania Cup for 2020 after an outstanding inaugural edition of the tournament last year.”
“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.”