The RFL has released a promo for this year’s Four Nations tournament, alongside details of the venues and dates of the games.
England will face Scotland, New Zealand and Australia this year, with the games being played at Hull, Huddersfield, Coventry, Workington, London and Liverpool.
Four Nations 2016 Fixtures
Fri 28 Oct: Australia v Scotland, KC Lightstream Stadium, Hull, 20:00 BST
Sat 29 Oct: England v New Zealand, John Smith’s Stadium, Huddersfield, 14:30
Sat 5 Nov: England v Scotland, Ricoh Arena, Coventry, 17:30
Sat 5 Nov: New Zealand v Australia, Ricoh Arena, Coventry, 20:00
Fri 11 Nov: New Zealand v Scotland, Zebra Claims Stadium, Workington, 20:00
Sun 13 Nov: England v Australia, Olympic Stadium, 15:30
Sun 20 Nov: Final, Anfield, Liverpool, 14:30
Over the last few years the RFL have upped their game when it comes to picking venues. They’ve picked clever venues that satisfy the heartlands while expanding the reach of the game, while playing in front of full grounds. It’s a tough balancing act and one they’ve done well.
The venues that jump out from this year’s list are Ricoh Arena, Coventry, the Olympic Stadium, London and Anfield, Liverpool.
Coventry will host a double header, with England v Scotland and Australia v New Zealand on the same day. With the Ricoh holding just under 33,000 it looks a smart but of scheduling.
The Olympic Stadium, soon to become West Ham’s home ground, was the venue of the heartbreaking World Cup semi final against New Zealand (link) and England will hope to go one better this time against the Aussies. Again, it’s a good location – smaller, newer and shiny-er than Wembley, it’s likely to attract the Aussie population of London as well as traditional league fans so it looks almost full.
Anfield caused the biggest stir amongst the mainstream, but it’s a venue that makes absolute sense. While not a traditional league ground – it’s only hosted three matches previously – it’s easy to access from the heartlands of the game and bigger than anything currently in use by a super league club.
I’d guess that the Emirates Stadium, Manchester, Elland Road and even St James’s Park, Newcastle would all have been considered given their size, location and history of hosting major rugby events but Anfield feels like a good choice.
Players like it
While there is often whinging, gurning and complaining from down under about playing games on football (soccer) grounds with tight in goal areas, they provide a bear pit atmosphere that’s impossible to replicate in a big open bowl like Odsal or many of the older NRL grounds.
And the venues have certainly gone down well with England captain Sean O’Loughlin. While it’s true he may only have been repeating a line fed to him by the PR team, we have to take him at his word!
He said, “Playing at iconic venues such as Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and Anfield is one of the reasons we play the game, walking out in front of 45,000 fans in London was one of the highlights of 2015 for me and I am sure that playing in front of big home crowds will push the team on to what will hopefully be a successful campaign.”
Four Nations TV Deal
International rugby league is a wonderful thing. The quality is often overlooked and the genuine excitement from the fans at watching the best play the best (we don’t get State of Origin over here) is something worth experiencing.
More than half of tickets cost less than £25 and ticket offers are available for early purchasers. You can get them from the RFL’s official ticketing site here or call the Rugby League Ticket Hotline on 0844 856 1113.
If you can’t get along to any of the games, the BBC will be broadcasting the tournament. A full schedule and broadcast plan will be released later on in the year, but there will be live coverage across TV, radio and online.