England return to rugby league’s European Championship for the first time since 2004, as the European Rugby League Federation confirm the dates and fixtures of the tournament set for the autumn months.
The Euro’s will be held with eight nations travelling between countries, with the teams finishing atop the two groups facing off in a final on Saturday 11th November, likely to be held in France.
As well as competing for the trophy, the top two highest placed nations in each group - outside of England and France who have already qualified - will confirm their qualification for the 2025 Rugby League World Cup, held in France.
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This is the top international competition in European rugby league, with countries lower in the pecking order expected to compete in the ERLC B, where the likes of Greece, Germany, Ukraine and Norway face off against each other. The C & D divisions of the tournament have been scrapped to allow for bigger divisions of teams and to make it easier for further expansion.
Group A is the one that England will play in, alongside Ireland, Scotland and Serbia. The games will get underway on October 21st, with England hosting Ireland and Serbia travelling to Scotland. A week later, Scotland and England face off in what will surely be a heated clash, with Ireland travelling to face Serbia. On November 4th, England are expected to make a historic trip to Serbia, in what will be the biggest game in Serbian rugby league history.
Group B sees France, Italy, Wales and newcomers Spain battling for a spot in the World Cup. The fixtures will take place on the same weekend, with Spain vs Wales and France vs Italy taking place on 21st October, France vs Spain and Italy vs Wales on 28th October and Wales vs France, Italy vs Spain on 4th November.
Further announcements are yet to be made upon the exact day of the weekend, the kick-off times and the specific venues for each match, so fans have been discouraged from booking any travel arrangements. England has a whole host of venus it will be played at, but a North West stadium is likely to be in the running. We’d predict the Halliwell Jones or Totally Wicked Stadiums as likely frontrunners.
It’s the first time the competition will be played in the format of two groups of four. England returning is a huge boost for the competition and it’s likely that a final with France on enemy territory will be huge for rugby league in France, after the success of the Betfred Super League coverage Toulouse and Catalans have been getting so far. The Dragons have even gone as far as organise the planning of redeveloping the Stade Gilbert Brutus ahead of the 2025 World Cup, after a great last few years on the pitch.
This news fills part of the Autumn/Winter internationals calendar for rugby league which has been lacking in the Northern Hemisphere for the last few years. Reports in Australia suggest that a new-look Four Nations tournament will be created between Australia, Tonga, Samoa and New Zealand, although an announcement is still in it’s preliminary stage.
Shaun Wane hopes to face off against Tonga in a home test series, but the European Championship provides another opportunity for England’s finest to play for silverware as well as face up and coming European sides who want to make it onto the big stage.
The next England game to take place will be a mid-season international between the ‘Wall of White’ and France. It’s a double header as both men’s and women’s sides take to the field in Warrington.
21st October 2023: England vs Ireland, Scotland vs Serbia
28th October 2023: Scotland vs England, Serbia vs Ireland
4th November 2023: Serbia vs England, Ireland vs Scotland
21st October 2023: Spain vs Wales, France vs Italy
28th October 2023: France vs Spain, Italy vs Wales
4th November 2023: Wales vs France, Italy vs Spain
Final: 11th November 2023
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