Rugby League - Rugby League Ashes return on agenda

The rugby league Ashes could be back on the international calendar as soon as 2015.

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Visits by Great Britain to the southern hemisphere have been replaced by Four Nations tournaments since 2005, but there could be an opening in two years' time to revive the once-popular concept.

The Rugby Football League on Wednesday unveiled a new four-year contract with the BBC for coverage of the Four Nations Series in 2014 and 2016 as well as the World Cups in 2013 and 2017. That leaves a gap in 2015 and RFL chief executive Nigel Wood says it will be on the agenda for the International Federation meeting, which will be held next week ahead of the Anzac Test between Australia and New Zealand in Canberra.

"We're in a constant dialogue with our international partners and hopefully we'll be in a position to announce something shortly," said Wood, who was speaking at a 2013 World Cup seminar at Old Trafford and is planning to attend the meeting in Australia.

Wood hailed as "fantastic" the news that international rugby league will be terrestrial television for the next four years.

The BBC will have live coverage of all England's games at this year's World Cup, including the opening ceremony at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on October 26.

Barbara Slater, BBC director of sport, said: "BBC Sport is committed to bringing major national sporting events to the widest audience so we're very excited to be adding the Rugby League World Cup to our portfolio.

"This is a great opportunity to showcase rugby league across all BBC platforms and it's an added bonus that the 2013 tournament is on home soil."

The big losers in the new deal are Sky, who have been the major broadcasters for every major international tournament since Super League was launched in 1996, including the last two World Cups.

But they are thought to have declined the opportunity to act as host broadcaster for the 2013 competition after their initial bid was rejected, which leaves Premier Sports to fill the void.

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