Asia-Pacific Rugby League Confederation (APRLC) continues to explore fixture options for the 2020 Oceania Cup despite ongoing uncertainty about COVID-19-related restrictions on travel, mass gatherings and the staging of events.
The tournament was originally scheduled to consist of two rounds of fixtures in June and October/November involving Cook Islands, Fiji, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Tonga.
Following an APRLC announcement in March that June fixtures would be postponed due to COVID-19, APRLC has continued to work with member nations and key stakeholders to plan for revised fixtures in November.
The recent confirmation of the NRL’s 2020 calendar has allowed APRLC to scope a new schedule of Oceania Cup fixtures for November that could run concurrently with the State of Origin series.
International Rugby League (IRL) was represented on the NRL’s season resumption committee, Project Apollo, by chairman Wayne Pearce, a director of IRL, and Troy Grant, who is vice chair of IRL, ensuring the importance of Oceania Cup to APRLC member nations and their players was factored into Project Apollo planning.
“Both the NRL, including ARLC chairman Peter V’landys, and the Rugby League Players Association have been very supportive of the needs of APRLC as hosts of the Oceania Cup, and the importance of international football to the playing group,” Grant said.
“The progress made by the NRL in terms of developing biosecurity protocols for matches, and facilitating training and travel arrangements for clubs, provide a valuable blueprint for Oceania Cup planning.”
APRLC chair Sandis Tsaka added: “While we were very encouraged by the resumption of the NRL on 28 May, there is still much uncertainty about international travel, mass gatherings and the ability to stage sporting events with crowds, and these factors will influence options for Oceania Cup matches in 2020.
“At this stage we are monitoring government announcements and working on scoping Oceania Cup 2020 accordingly.”
APRLC continues to monitor fast-changing restrictions and consult with key stakeholders and member nations. At this stage, APRLC remains optimistic about staging Oceania Cup 2020 fixtures in some form.