From Three to Four...
The Four Nations tournament is a relatively new concept to Rugby League, when it was borne out of the Tri Nations tournament in 2009.
In 1999 the Rugby League International Federation created a new tournament, the Tri-Nations, which involved the three strongest nations in Rugby League – Australia, Great Britain and New Zealand. There were 4 Tri-Nation tournaments held between 1999 and 2006. Australia were victors on 3 occasions with New Zealand taking the title once.
2007/2008 saw Great Britain become England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland in order to provide greater opportunities in international competition for those individual nations. As a result of that, and also to involve other Southern Hemisphere teams in International games, the Tri-Nations became the Four Nations with the first tournament held under the new name and format in 2009.
With the decision to increase the competing nations other teams were required to join the competition. The solution was simple: When the tournament is due to take place in the Northern Hemisphere the winner of the European Cup will join the top 3 and when it takes place in the Southern Hemisphere the winner of the Pacific Cup will take part.
In the two Four Nation Tournaments that have taken place to date Australia and New Zealand have both taken the title once. Despite being involved in two finals Great Britain/England have yet to record a success in the tournament but will be aiming to record their first final success this autumn when they host, alongside Wales, the 2011 Gillette Four Nations tournament.