THE Rugby Football League have abandoned plans to play for the Ashes during the end-of-season Gillette Four Nations series.
The RFL had persuaded the Australia Rugby League to put the Ashes trophy, held by the Kangaroos for almost 40 years and currently on display at the National Museum in Canberra, at stake when England meet the old enemy at Wigan on October 31.
With no tours planned for the foreseeable future, the two governing bodies had agreed the Ashes would be contested in one-off matches in each of the next three years.
However, the idea has been been roundly criticised by traditionalists, including England coach Tony Smith and his Great Britain predecessor Brian Noble, and the RFL have now performed a U-turn.
"It was an idea born out of a great sporting rivalry and it is to the credit of the Australians that they were prepared to consider the move," said RFL chairman Richard Lewis.
"Understandably, there are some passionate views about the Rugby League Ashes in the light of its rich history.
"Since 1908 these contests have held a unique place in the game and we believe any change to the format under which they are to be decided would need more consideration than can be given between now and the Four Nations."
ARL chief executive Geoff Carr said: "We were initially happy to accept any challenge but, after representations from a number of individuals and groups, we are more than happy to focus on winning the Gillette Four Nations trophy itself.
"The strong feeling expressed about the Ashes are a reminder of how much these contests mean to people and we will no doubt have further discussion regarding an Ashes series in the near future."
There will now be a concerted call for a tour to Australia in 2012 when the Ashes could be contested over a three-match series.
Australia are keen to have an international-free close season in preparation for the 2013 World Cup.
The Four Nations kicks off on Friday, October 23, when England play France at Doncaster and continues the following day with a southern hemisphere clash between New Zealand and Australia at The Twickenham Stoop.
Lewis added: "It’s going to be a fantastic tournament in its own right and I’m looking forward to seeing how all four nations fare 12 months after success last year’s hugely successful World Cup in Australia."