After over two years without Test match rugby league, New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) is proud to announce, the international game is finally returning home.
Saturday 25 June will see Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium play host as the Kiwis and Kiwi Ferns line up against Pacific rivals Tonga in a blockbuster double-header worthy of the wait.
The rugby league spectacle coincides with Matariki – the Māori New Year, falling on the inaugural public holiday weekend. The long-awaited international clashes will celebrate the return home to Aotearoa and the re-uniting of players with their New Zealand fans and communities.
Fourteen years have passed since the Kiwi Ferns faced Tonga women, where they earned a 40 point victory at the 2008 Rugby League World Cup. Both nations will now meet again off the back of 2020 victories; the rookie lead Kiwi Ferns earned a 28-8 win over Fetu Samoa, while Tonga women had a dominant 66-8 performance over Niue.
As both teams take the field come June 25, NZRL aims to achieve a new world record crowd attendance for a women’s rugby league match, which currently sits at 18,000.
Pre pandemic, the No.1 ranked Kiwis were hot off a series win against Great Britain and a 34-14 victory against their Tongan rivals in 2019. Despite their loss to the Kiwis, Tonga achieved a historic 16-12 upset over the Kangaroos in the same year.
After a two-year hiatus, Saturday 25 June will see the return of arguably the biggest rivalry in international rugby league, as both nations will look to assert their dominance ahead of the October Rugby League World Cup.