History was made at the Totally Wicked Stadium on Sunday, 22nd October 2023 as England and Tonga faced off for the first time in an international rugby league Test series!
An incredible international match was watched by 12,898 in St Helens. The home ground of The Saints was the host to an incredible atmosphere, on a memorable afternoon for a number of reasons…
© WELSBY SHINES AS SKIPPER
Jack Welsby stood tall on his home ground, leading England out to become the youngest captain of the national side in history!
Big match performances have been something that Saints fans have been getting accustomed to with our star full-back, and the highlight of the match came from one of his now trademark rainbow passes to the wing.
TONGA TOWN 🇹🇴
The town of St Helens and the Club continue a close association with the Tongan national rugby league team, as well as the nation and its people.
The Club helped support Tonga in 2022 after an ash cloud and tsunami engulfed the islands of Tonga, which had catastrophic effects to the people of the country. Saints began collecting sports clothing and equipment to be sent over to Tonga, which was distributed to the people of the Pacific Island nation.
In Autumn of 2022, the town of St Helens was also the host of the Mate Ma’a Tonga for the Rugby League World Cup being the training base for the team, as well as the Totally Wicked Stadium hosting their group stage matches against Papua New Guinea and Wales. So it was terrific to welcome and see plenty of proud representatives of the nation in the Totally Wicked Stadium once again, creating a loud and colourful atmosphere before, during and after the match!
👋 WELCOME BACK WOOLFY!
Former Red V First Team boss Kristian Woolf returned to a second home where he won three Super League titles! with Saints players Konrad Hurrell and Will Hopoate named in his touring squad, the latter of which had a strong performance at full-back for Tonga against England too.
Current St.Helens Head Coach Paul Wellens has also reunited with Woolf to serve as his Assistant Coach for the Test Series.
🔥 INTERNATIONAL PASSION 🔥
Ahead of the game, both sides proudly sung their national anthems, followed by Mate Ma’a Tonga performing their spine-tingling cultural war dance – the Sipi Tau.
The Sipi Tau is a thing of beauty! pic.twitter.com/5ZEVI7nIfU
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) October 22, 2023
CLARK AT HIS NEW HOME 👀
The Saints faithful got to take a closer look at new recruit Daryl Clark, who marked his return to the England fold for the first time since 2018.
Clark joins the Red V on a three-year deal from the 2024 season, and he will be reporting in for his first pre-season with St.Helens later on in the year!
The hooker started for the Three Lions and looked confident and assured in both attack and defence, giving our fans a taste of what is to come when he takes to the field regularly at the Totally Wicked Stadium.
☝ ENGLAND WIN TEST ONE
The first meeting between the Three Lions and Mate Ma’a Tonga since 2017 firmly in the balance right until the end!
Both sides headed into the three-match series next to one another in the world rankings, so a close game was to be expected, and boy did it live up to the hype.
Watch the highlights of the game by clicking the image below 👇
THE NEXT TWO TESTS 🎟
England have the advantage, now the Test Series heads to Huddersfield before closing out with as part of a Double Header with England Women facing Wales also in Leeds.
- Test Two – Saturday, 28th October – John Smith’s Stadium, Huddersfield – 2:30pm KO
- Test Three – Saturday, 4th November – AMT Headingley Stadium, Leeds – 2:30pm KO
(England Women vs Wales Women – 12pm KO)