Scotland RL chairman Keith Hogg has greeted the news that Great Britain will tour again in 2019 – and Scotland may get a re-match with New Zealand and Australia when they tour here – with delight.
It’s great to have an exciting international calendar in place, especially the news about the GB Lions and it is good for rugby league across the UK. We look forward to some of our fine talents joining the illustrious list of Scots who have played rugby league with great pride for Great Britain over the years, such as Roy Kinnear, George Fairbairn and Alan Tait.
Fifteen Scots have played rugby league for Great Britain, from Hawick’s Andrew Hogg, who played in the first Northern Union internationals against New Zealand in 1908, through to Lee Gilmour, Yorkshire-born to a Linlithgow family, a century later.
The GB Lions will head down under in the autumn of 2019 to play Australia, New Zealand and as yet unspecified Pacific Island opposition in their first trip since 2006 and their first full tour since 1996. Great Britain was moth-balled in 2007 as the RFL concentrated on the England national team.
Scotland are yet to enter discussions with the RFL over the make-up of the squad or coaching staff.
We haven’t been involved in discussions as to how the GB Lions is going to work, admits Hogg. But meetings are planned. We would support our players having the opportunity to play for Great Britain, of course.
Scotland, Ireland and Wales will need to meet with the RFL to discuss scheduling as the qualifiers for the 2021 World Cup – to be held in England – also take place in autumn 2019, with only the quarter-finalists at this year’s World Cup automatically qualifying. Scotland will need to avoid finishing bottom of their group, which features co-hosts New Zealand, Tonga and Samoa, in November to qualify for their fifth successive World Cup.
We are aiming to qualify for RLWC 2021 at this year’s event but should this not happen we will want to understand how the World Cup qualifiers will work given that the GB Lions will also be touring in 2019, said Hogg.
More imminently, Scotland will enter discussions about hosting a fixture against the touring Kiwis next year, having pulled off a shock draw with them in last year’s Four Nations. If the NZ tour goes well, Australia are expected to follow a similar schedule when the Kangaroos tour these shores four years later, meaning a potential Scotland v Australia clash north of the border in 2022.
It is great for rugby league to have Australia and New Zealand touring and it would be very good for the development of the game to see them play in Scotland. We would love to play them again. New Zealand beat us in our first meeting in the 2013 World Cup quarter-finals then last year we showed we had improved a lot and deserved the draw. We play them again in Christchurch in the World Cup in November so it would be wonderful to have a fourth meeting next year, too.
The following Scots – either born in Scotland or Scotland RL internationals – have all played rugby league for Great Britain, or the Northern Union as they were known until 1946;
George Fairbairn, Lee Gilmour, Andrew Hogg, Richard Horne, Roy Kinnear (also British Lions and Scotland RU), Dale Laughton, Billy McGinty, Charlie Renilson, David Rose (Scotland RU), Alan Tait (also British Lions and Scotland RU), Drew Turnball, Dave Valentine (Scotland RU), Rob Valentine (Scotland RU), Hugh Waddell, George Wilson (Scotland RU).