|Number of teams||3|
|Countries|| Australia |
Great Britain (1908–2003)
|Most titles||Australia (20 titles)|
The Ashes series, similar to the cricket series of the same name, is a best-of-three series of test matches between the English (previously British) and Australian national rugby league football teams.It has been contested 39 times from 1908 until 2003 largely with hosting rights alternating between the two countries. From 1973 Australia won thirteen consecutive Ashes series. The series was set to be revived in 2020, but was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Several sports and events adopted cricket's Ashes "concept" and by the beginning of the 20th century it was an "accepted principle" that a series had to have at least three matches to be a true test of which side was the best.
On 27 September 1908, the first touring Australian rugby league side arrived in England, and played their first ever Test against the England side in December in London. Two further Tests were played. The Australians suggested that the series should be called "The Ashes" and the name stuck.
The format used is that three matches are played, with the winning team being decided on the basis of most matches won. If one team has already won two matches the series is already won, however the final game is usually still played. In the 1929–30 Ashes series both the teams won one game and one game was drawn; it was therefore decided to hold a further match to determine the outcome.
The British side has not always been termed Great Britain; in the past the titles "Northern Union XIII", "England" and "The Lions" have also been used. Similarly, from the 1911–12 Kangaroo tour until the 1929–30 tour, Australian touring sides had included New Zealand players so were styled "Australasia", though when playing at home they always played as Australia.
Since 1964 the Harry Sunderland Medal is awarded to the best Australian player in a home Ashes series. Since Great Britain's win in Australia in 1970, the series has been very one sided with Australia having won 13 consecutive ashes, 5 of those (1979, 1982, 1984, 1986 and 2003) being 3–0 series whitewashes while the 1988 series had already been won by Australia in the first two tests before the Lions won a famous third test in Sydney 26–12 for their first test win over Australia since the second test of the 1978 Kangaroo tour, a streak of 15 wins for the Kangaroos.
The performance gap between the two teams became wider during the mid-late 1970s and Great Britain struggled to compete with Australia. The 1982 Kangaroos became the first side to go through a tour of Great Britain and France undefeated (something never achieved on a Lions tour, though they came close in 1954 losing just 2 games). This earned the team the nickname "The Invincibles". The 1986 Kangaroos repeated this feat and would be known as "The Unbeatables".
The Ashes had not been contested since 2003 when, in 2009 with the prospect of not contesting them until after the 2013 World Cup, Britain's Rugby Football League (RFL) challenged the Australian Rugby League (ARL) to play the round-robin stage match of the Four Nations tournament with the Ashes at stake. The one-off game would be a departure from the usual three-match series, additionally the contest would be between England, rather than Great Britain, and Australia.The ARL initially agreed to the proposal but later, facing hostility from former Ashes players and fans who thought the proposals devalued the Ashes, the two governing bodies decided not to proceed.
In 2016, newly appointed Australian team coach Mal Meninga, who as a player was selected to a record 4 Kangaroo Tours (the last two as captain) and played in a record 6 Ashes series (1982, 1984, 1986, 1990, 1992 and 1994 - playing a record 17 Ashes tests, only missing 1988 through injury), publicly advocated for a return of the Kangaroo Tours which would see The Ashes revived in 2020.The proposed 2020 series was cancelled in June 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was suggested that the series may be played in 2022 instead.
In 1928, the City Tattersalls Club in Sydney, Australia donated a trophy to be the prize, the "Ashes Cup".The Cup's inscription reads:
RUGBY LEAGUE FOOTBALL
Australia v England
CITY TATTERSALLS CLUB
The Cup was first presented in 1928 to The Lions, after they defeated Australia 2–1 in the series.Following the 1933–34 series, in which England retained the Cup for the third time since first being presented with it, the Cup disappeared in the United Kingdom and was not found until October 1945. The trophy had been on display at a function in Ilkley, Yorkshire and afterwards was returned to the manager of the Griffin Hotel, Leeds - where the English Rugby League management met - but this was not made clear to the English authorities and instead in laid overlooked in a box for 12 years. During the period it was missing, Great Britain had won each series and the Cup's disappearance was not widely known. The Australian team first won the Cup in 1950.
In preparation for the Legends of League exhibition at the National Museum of Australia in 2008, marking a Centenary of Rugby League in Australia, the Ashes Cup underwent preservation work.
|Year||Home Team||Result||Away Team|
|1908–09||Northern Union (GB)||2–0||Australia|
|1910||Australia||0–2||Northern Union (GB)|
|1914||Australia||1–2||Northern Union (GB)|
|1920||Australia||2–1||Northern Union (GB)|
|1929–30||The Lions (GB)||2–1 (1 tied)||Australia|
|1932||Australia||1–2||The Lions (GB)|
|1933–34||The Lions (GB)||3–0||Australia|
|1936||Australia||1–2||The Lions (GB)|
|1937||The Lions (GB)||2–1||Australia|
|1946||Australia||0–2 (1 tied)||The Lions (GB)|
|All series||39||20 (51.3%)||19 (48.7%)||0 (0.0%)|
|Series in Australia||19||9 (47.4%)||10 (52.6%)||0 (0.0%)|
|Series in Great Britain||20||11 (55.0%)||9 (45.0%)||0 (0.0%)|
|All Tests||119||59 (49.6%)||55 (46.2%)||5 (4.2%)|
|Tests in Australia||57||28 (49.1%)||27 (47.4%)||2 (3.5%)|
|Tests in Great Britain||62||31 (50%)||28 (45.2%)||3 (4.8%)|
|Figures up to and including the 3rd Test of the 2003 series|
The 1989–1992 Rugby League World Cup was the tenth staging of the Rugby League World Cup, and continued to use the three-year format, stretching across the years 1989 to 1992. As with the 1985–1988 World Cup, teams played each other on a home-and-away basis. These matches were fitted into the normal international programme of three-match test series between the nations, with a pre-designated match from each series counting as the World Cup fixture.
The Great Britain national rugby league team represents Great Britain in rugby league. Administered by the Rugby Football League (RFL), the team is nicknamed The Lions.
The Australian national rugby league team, the Kangaroos, have represented Australia in senior men's rugby league football competition since the establishment of the 'Northern Union game' in Australia in 1908. Administered by the Australian Rugby League Commission, the Kangaroos are ranked second in the RLIF World Rankings. The team is the most successful in Rugby League World Cup history, having contested all 15 and won 11 of them, failing to reach the final only once, in the inaugural tournament in 1954. Only five nations have beaten Australia in test matches, and Australia has an overall win percentage of 69%.
Malcolm Norman Meninga is the head coach of the Australian national team, an Australian former rugby league footballer and Lord Mayor of Betoota. Meninga is widely regarded as one of the finest players in the game's history. He enjoyed a long career in both Australia and England, playing mainly as a goal-kicking centre, but also on the wing. After retiring, Meninga has enjoyed success as a coach, and is currently the head coach of Australia.
Clive Bernard Churchill AM was an Australian professional rugby league footballer and coach in the mid-20th century. An Australian international and New South Wales and Queensland interstate representative fullback, he played the majority of his club football with and later coached the South Sydney Rabbitohs. He won five premierships with the club as a player and three more as coach. Retiring as the most capped Australian Kangaroos player ever, Churchill is thus considered one of the game's greatest ever players and the prestigious Clive Churchill Medal for man-of-the-match in the NRL grand final bears his name. Churchill's attacking flair as a player is credited with having changed the role of the fullback.
Robert Fulton, also nicknamed "Bozo", was an Australian international rugby league footballer, coach and later commentator. Fulton played, coached, selected for and has commentated on the game with great success at the highest levels and has been named amongst Australia's greatest rugby league players of the 20th century. As a player Fulton won three premierships with the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles in the 1970s, the last as captain. He represented the Australian national side on thirty-five occasions, seven times as captain. He had a long coaching career at the first grade level, taking Manly to premiership victory in 1987 and 1996. He coached the Australian national team in thirty-nine Tests. He was a New South Wales State selector and a national selector. He was a radio commentator with 2GB at the time of his death in 2021, aged 74. In 1981, he was selected as one of the initial four post-war "Immortals" of the Australian game and, in 2008, he was named in Australia's team of the century.
Graeme Frank Langlands, MBE,, also known by the nickname of "Changa", was an Australian professional rugby league footballer who played in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. and coached in the 1970s.
Michael David O'Connor is an Australian former rugby league and rugby union footballer who represented Australia in both codes. He played for the Wallabies in 13 Tests from 1979 to 1982 and then the Kangaroos in 17 Tests from 1985 to 1990. O'Connor played club football in the NSWRL Premiership for the St. George Dragons from 1983 until 1986, and later the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles from 1987 until his retirement at the end of 1992, becoming captain of Manly in 1990, as well as winning the 1987 Winfield Cup with the Sea Eagles.
The 1994 Kangaroo Tour was the 18th and last Kangaroo Tour played in the conventional format, where the Australia national rugby league team played a number of matches against British and French clubs or provincial outfits, in additions to the Test matches. The outbreak of the Super League war in early 1995 meant that the next Kangaroo tour, set for 1998, never eventuated; although shortened, test only tours were staged in 2001 and 2003.
The 1990 Kangaroo Tour was the seventeenth Kangaroo Tour, where the Australian national rugby league team travelled to Europe and played eighteen matches against British and French club and representative rugby league teams, in addition to three Test matches against Great Britain and two Tests against the French. It followed the tour of 1986 and the next was staged in 1994.
The 1986 Kangaroo tour of Great Britain and France was the sixteenth Kangaroo tour in which the Australian national rugby league team plays a number of tour matches against British and French teams, in addition to the Test matches. The next Kangaroo tour was staged in 1990.
Derek Turner, also known by the nickname of "Rocky", was an English World Cup winning professional rugby league footballer who played in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, and coached in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. He played at representative level for Great Britain, England, Yorkshire and Great Britain & France, and at club level for Hull Kingston Rovers, Oldham and Wakefield Trinity (captain), with whom he won three Challenge Cup Finals, as a second-row, i.e. number 11 or 12, or more usually loose forward, i.e. number 13, and coached at club level for Castleford, Leeds and Wakefield Trinity.
The 1982 Kangaroo tour was the fifteenth Kangaroo tour where the Australian national rugby league team played a number of matches against British and French rugby league teams, in addition to the Test matches. The Australia national rugby league team have generally since 1908 barring wartime, toured Great Britain every four years often capping the tour with matches and Tests in France. This regular touring side are known as the Kangaroos.
The 1990–91 Rugby Football League season was the 96th ever season of professional rugby league football in Britain. Fourteen teams competed from August, 1990 until May, 1991 for the Stones Bitter Championship, Premiership Trophy and Silk Cut Challenge Cup.
The 1982–83 Rugby Football League season was the 88th ever season of professional rugby league football in Britain. Sixteen teams competed from August, 1982 until May, 1983 for the Slalom Lager Championship.
The 1992 Great Britain Lions tour of Australasia was a tour by the Great Britain national rugby league team, nicknamed the 'Lions', of Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand which took place between May and July 1992. The tour was the last of such length undertaken by the Great Britain team, and included a test match against Papua New Guinea, a three-test series against Australia for The Ashes, and a two-test series against New Zealand for the Baskerville Shield, all interspersed with matches against local club and representative teams.
The 1992 Rugby League World Cup final was the conclusive game of the 1989–1992 Rugby League World Cup tournament and was played between Great Britain and Australia on 24 October 1992 at Wembley Stadium in London, England. Australia won the final by 10 points to 6 in front of an international record crowd of 73,631. Australia, the defending champions, won the Rugby League World Cup for the 7th time.
The 1963-64 Kangaroo tour was the eleventh Kangaroo tour, during which the Australian national rugby league team traveled to Europe and played thirty-six matches against British and French club and representative teams. It included three Test matches against Great Britain for The Ashes, and three Tests against the French. The tour followed the 1959-60 Kangaroo tour of Great Britain and France and was followed by the 1967-68 Kangaroo tour of Great Britain and France.
The 1959–60 Kangaroo tour was the tenth Kangaroo tour, in which the Australian national rugby league team traveled to Europe and played thirty-seven matches against British, French and Italian teams, including the Ashes series of three Test matches against Great Britain, two Test matches against the French and an additional two non-Test matches against an Italian representative team. It followed the tour of 1956-57 and the next was staged in 1963-64.
The 1994 French rugby league Oceania tour was a three test tour by the France national rugby league team. The French team played single tests against Papua New Guinea, Australia and Fiji, losing all three games.