Sport | Rugby league

Pacific Championships brings back international men’s and women’s rugby league

The October-November tournament will be played across Australia, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea.

Rugby league fans should be thrilled by today’s international fixture news.

The Australia Rugby League Commission announced earlier today the Pacific Championships, which will include six men’s and seven women’s teams from Australia, Sāmoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Tonga, are back.

From mid-October to early November, the tournament will comprise two match days in Australia and New Zealand, while four will be played in Papua New Guinea, as a way to develop and promote the sport across the Pacific.

The Tongan men’s team will be the only ones not participating this year due to a three-test series against England.

Starting the tournament will be double 2022 World Cup finals rematches, with the Jillaroos facing the Kiwi Ferns and Kangaroos playing against Toa Sāmoa in Townsville, Queensland.

Two pools will host the men’s events, which will conclude with finals in Hamilton in NZ and Port Moresby in PNG on November 4–5.

The women’s fixtures will end in Melbourne during week three of four of the tournament.

Eden Park will be the host of a triple header; Kiwi Ferns vs Tonga, Kiwis vs Sāmoa, and an NZ Kiwi A Team vs Tonga A team, happening on week two during Labour Weekend.

It all begins just a couple of weeks after the NRL grand final on October 1.

“The commission’s focus on growing the international game will combine with an equally strong desire to grow rugby league in the Pacific,” ARLC commissioner Kate Jones said.

“The 2023 Pacific Championships will showcase the best of international rugby league in matches across three countries. Importantly, the international matches will be highlighted by both men’s and women’s matches.”

NZRL chief executive Greg Peters said: “To bring the best players in the world back home to play in front of their communities is special.

“International rugby league is in an exciting new era, and we are privileged in New Zealand to witness first-hand how much this game means to our Māori and Pasifika communities.”

Full fixtures

Week One – October 14-15

  • Australia v Samoa (men) and Australia v New Zealand (women) at Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville.
  • PNG v Cook Islands (men) and Samoa v Fiji (women) at Santos Stadium, Port Moresby.

Week Two – October 21-22

  • New Zealand v Samoa (men), New Zealand v Tonga (women), and NZ Kiwis A v Tonga A (men) at Eden Park, Auckland.
  • Fiji v Cook Islands (men) and PNG v Cook Islands (women) at Santos Stadium, Port Moresby.

Week Three – October 28-29

  • Australia v New Zealand (men and women) at AAMI Park, Melbourne.
  • PNG v Fiji (men) at Santos Stadium, Port Moresby.

Week Four – November 4-5

  • The final of the men’s Pacific Cup tournament on November 4 in Hamilton, New Zealand.
  • The final of the men’s Pacific Bowl tournament on November 5 at Santos Stadium, Port Moresby.

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