The RFL can today confirm that England will again face the Combined Nations All Stars in a Mid-Season International this June – and in partnership with the RFL’s technical kit suppliers OXEN, the All Stars will play in a special jersey to raise funds to aid those affected by the tsunami in Tonga.
The All Stars, a team drawn from Betfred Super League and Championship players qualifying for any other nation than England which revives a concept dating back to Rugby League’s original Other Nationalities team in 1904, beat England 26-24 at Warrington’s Halliwell Jones Stadium last June.
For that fixture, the All Stars wore a jersey which was designed in tribute to Mose Masoe, the former Hull KR and Samoa forward whose career was ended by a spinal injury in early 2020 – with proceeds raising funds for his Foundation.
Given the devastating impact of the recent volcanic eruption and tsunami on the Tonga archipelago, and the strong influence and popularity of players of Tongan descent in Rugby League generally and specifically in the Northern Hemisphere, the RFL have agreed with OXEN, Rugby League Cares and the recently-formed Pacific Islands Rugby League Group to dedicate the 2022 All Stars jersey to the people of Tonga.
Carl Hall, the long-serving Doncaster Chief Executive and former RFL Vice President who is Chair of the Pacific Islands Rugby League Group and will continue as team manager for the All Stars in 2022, said:
“This is a great gesture from the RFL, Rugby League Cares and OXEN Sports.
“Tonga has become such a force in Rugby League in recent years, with their incredible run to the semi finals of the last World Cup in 2017, and there have been so many great players of Tongan descent who have come over to play with English or French clubs.
“We’ve all seen the terrible and frightening scenes since the volcanic explosion, with some players anxiously awaiting news of their relatives. I know a lot of Rugby League clubs and supporters will want to find a way of showing their solidarity with the Tongan people over the coming days, weeks and months.
“It will be an honour and a privilege for us to do our bit when the Combined Nations All Stars come together to face England this summer.”
Full details of the fixture, which will be played on a clear weekend in the Betfred Super League and Championship season on June 17-19, will be confirmed soon.
As in 2022, there will also be Mid-Season Internationals for England Women and Wheelchair, as all three England teams prepare for the postponed Rugby League World Cup 2021 on home territory this autumn.
Lee Jenkinson, the CEO of Elite Pro Sports / OXEN, said:
“We were honoured to work with Mose Masoe and his family and Foundation on the inaugural Combined Nations All Stars jersey in 2021, and delighted that thanks to the generosity of Rugby League supporters we helped in their fund-raising campaign.
“As soon as we saw the scenes of the tsunami in Tonga, and knowing how big Tonga is in Rugby League, we realised this would be a worthy successor to Mose in terms of a good cause for the All Stars to support in 2022.
“We’ll be making sure there is a strong Tongan presence in the jerseys, working with Carl Hall and the Pacific Islands Rugby League Group – and again £10 from every sale will be donated to the best charity to ensure Rugby League fans can help the people who really need support in such a difficult time.”