COLUMN: Is rugby league in increasing danger of missing the boat with New York RL?

In rugby league terms, seven or eight months ago feels like a lifetime away right now.

Back then, Danny McGuire was saying his farewells to Leeds, England were preparing for a World Cup campaign which would ultimately take them to the final, and the sport was in a state of confusion about its long-term structure and leadership direction – so at least some things haven’t changed in the ensuing months.

But when the consortium aiming to take professional rugby to New York unveiled their vision in a hotel banqueting suite just off the M62, it was hard not to get excited.

The vision, the financial backing, the players they were looking to sign.. it was so significant, it was garnering near-daily headlines on the other side of the world in Australia.

So what’s happened to all that excitement? In typical rugby league fashion, it’s slowly deflated to the point where you worry the sport is getting desperately close to missing out on one of its most golden opportunities in years.

Toronto, much to their credit, have shown there is a way to attract a new North American audience to rugby league. They have lit the touchpaper, as it were – and the anticipation was that many more teams would quickly follow to capitalise on the momentum generated by the Wolfpack.

But, and perhaps somewhat understandably, while there are endless debates about what the league structure looks like from 2019 onwards, New York is slipping down the sport’s agenda all the time. By now, they should have had a decision one way or the other (though it should have been an emphatic ‘yes’). The understanding is that there has been practically zero dialogue from the RFL’s party New York RL entertained way back at the start of this year.

And amazingly, there’s another obstacle potentially as big as rugby league’s own dawdling on the matter: rugby union. Professional rugby union in the United States is taking off at a rate of knots; to such an extent that in 2019, a New York side will enter Major League Rugby.

So, not for the first time, rugby union will get the jump on league and have a headstart – only this time, they’ll have a headstart in one of the biggest cities in the world, where league could have quite easily taken off.

Doesn’t it feel like we’ve been here once or twice before?

Now, eight months on from the exciting reveal.. we’re probably no nearer knowing whether we’re going to crack New York. By the time we do find out, you worry it’s probably already going to be too late.