Rugby League’s famous Ashes will return in 2020 with England set to play Australia in a three match test series.
It will be the 40th Ashes series and the first between the old foes in seventeen years, taking place fifty years since the Ashes were last won by an England or Great Britain side.
The series will kick off in Bolton, a popular venue for the Rugby Football League these days, with the second test at Leeds’ Elland Road and the third at the world class Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London. All three tests will be broadcast live by the BBC, not that we expect the elder generation of UTC’s stubborn contributors to fork out for a TV license. They’ll join us live instead if there’s cheap beer involved and no Australians wearing white shirts.
The Ashes meanwhile are most welcome as a blockbuster rugby league event. It’s been a while since England faced off against Australia too. The last meeting was back in 2017 for what was the World Cup final. England lost 6-0. As well as that night in Brisbane, there was the bitter defeat at Melbourne five years ago when the video referee ruled out that Ryan Hall ghost ‘try’ right at the end. It goes on and on. In fact, you have to go back to 1995 for the last time England toppled Australia (Great Britain did taste victory in Sydney in 2006). Since the England re-brand in 2008, Australia have won all eleven meetings. The truth hurts, but this time could be different. England have come close, and they’ll be up for the Ashes, that’s for sure. It’ll be a long time coming.
Australia last came to English shores in 2016 for the Four Nations. That was current coach Wayne Bennett’s first outing as boss. It didn’t go well. Not that the barometer was high, but England under Bennett’s safety first and sometimes snoozy rugby have improved on that. Steadily.
The Kangaroos of course continued to get the better of England during the World Cup (just), but a sublime 2018 test series win over New Zealand eased some of that pain. That allowed our Black and White goggle syndrome to take centre stage as we saw the birth of Hull FC’s Jake Connor on the international stage. Denver Kiwi massacre then Autumn test series. Oh yeah. Connor, along with the rest of the England side, really were sensational. However the less said about Great Britain’s revival tour this year the better. Amazing what twelve months can do isn’t it.
But next years Ashes series is all about England, something we’ve become accustomed to. Something with James Graham, John Bateman and co we’ve embedded ourselves into. It’s England against Australia. A fixture that needs no introduction, heaped in history, controversy and rivalry. For all the recent woes Australia aren’t unbeatable either. Just ask Tonga. All that took was a group of passionate, patriotic blokes who all believed in each other. They just happened to be able to play a bit of rugby too.
Hopefully England, both players and supporters, can get the memo and act like the Tongans. We might even surprise ourselves. So bring on the Aussies. We at UTC can’t wait. We’ll be there for all three tests, but we won’t wear anything red.
2020 Ashes Series
Game One: University of Bolton Stadium, Bolton, Saturday 31st October, 2:30PM
Game Two: Elland Road, Leeds, Saturday 7th November, 2:30PM
Game Three: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London, Saturday 14th November, 5:30PM