‘Especially disappointing’: England up in arms over Samoa rejecting offer to carve out a slice of history

England’s hopes of building on their recent ground-breaking 3-0 series win over Tonga have ground to a temporary halt after Samoa turned down a similar invitation to tour next autumn.

The Rugby Football League says it is exploring further options with a view to sustaining a meaningful international calendar in the long build-up towards the 2026 World Cup. 

Samoa’s preference to instead re-enter next year’s Pacific Championships comes as a particular blow given the potential profile of a series of rematches against the side who scored a stunning win in last year’s World Cup semi-final in London. 

RFL chairman Simon Johnson said: “Samoa’s decision is especially disappointing, coming just days after the conclusion of Tonga’s history-making visit to these shores this autumn, but we can’t afford to dwell on it. 

“They have made their decision. 

“We now owe it to Shaun Wane and the players, and to England supporters, to deliver meaningful international rugby league in 2024, and we are working with RL commercial and the IRL to make that happen.”

The Samoans were heavily beaten by Australia and New Zealand in the inaugural Pacific Championships with Tonga also set to play in next year’s event.

New Zealand caused a boilover by thrashing the Kangaroos 30-0 in the final.

Any chance of mid-year fixtures – as has been the case in the past – is unlikely given the cluttered rugby league schedule and removal of Sunday night State of Origin.

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