The Australian Rugby League Commission has announced details of a Pacific Championships involving international men’s and women’s matches in October and November this year.
The Commission has also announced a partnership with the Australian Government in order to promote and develop Rugby League in the Pacific through the Championships.
The Albanese Government will partner with the NRL to ensure Pacific Championships matches can be played in the Pacific, enabling players to play in front of their loyal local fans.
Six men’s teams and seven women’s teams will take part in the 2023 tournament across two pools, which will begin on October 14. The men’s tournaments will culminate in finals in Hamilton, New Zealand, and Port Moresby on November 4-5.
The 2023 Championships will include two match days in Australia, two in New Zealand and four in Papua New Guinea (PNG).
The full schedule is below:
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) and New Zealand v Tonga (women) 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
The Pacific Championships will be staged in 2023 and 2024, after the NRL and NRLW Premiership seasons, and will include men’s and women’s teams from Australia, New Zealand, Samoa, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Cook Islands.
“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 the Hon Kate Jones said.
“I’d like to thank Prime Minister the Hon Anthony Albanese for his personal support of Rugby League in the Pacific, alongside the Hon Pat Conroy, the Federal Minister for International Development and the Pacific, as well as the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
“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.
“The southern hemisphere tournaments will deliver on the broader NRL Pacific Strategy objectives - to create pathways for aspiring athletes, coaches, referees and administrators from the Pacific along with further growing international Rugby League.”
The partnership with the Australian Government will facilitate the development of high-performance pathways for Pacific athletes, coaches, referees and administrators, and continue to build a strong sports economy in the region.
“The Pacific Championships mark the beginning of an exciting new phase of international rugby league competition in the Pacific for both women and men,” Prime Minister the Hon Anthony Albanese MP said.
“Geography makes us neighbours, but through sport we build strong and lasting ties across the Pacific family.”
Minister for International Development and the Pacific, the Hon Pat Conroy MP added: “Given around half the players in the NRL are of Pasifika heritage, and our shared love of sport, this Competition will bring people from across the Pacific even closer together.
“The Championships will provide a new opportunity for athletes in the Pacific to play and develop professionally, and will inspire a generation of girls and boys across our region.”
NZRL CEO 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.
“Having the Pacific Championships locked in for the next two years is extremely exciting and undoubtedly will inspire the next generation of world-class players from all nations.