Ambitious enthusiasts from all corners of the globe will converge on Sydney in November 2018 for the Rugby League Emerging Nations World Championship (ENWC), following a decision from RLIF Board to award a grant of $100,000 to the event.
A celebration of the sport’s global expansion and diverse communities, the ENWC will feature Tier Two and Tier Three nations from around the world where the sport is developing. Confirmed nations competing in the event thus far are: Canada, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Latvia, Malta, Niue, Philippines, Thailand and Vanuatu.
The RLIF is expecting to confirm several additions to this already diverse list in coming months, with the tournament draw to be released in 2018.
The Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) say that the event will be a two-week gathering of communities from a geographical spread that they believe is “never seen before in rugby league”.
“The 2018 Emerging Nations World Championship will feature more global teams than any previous rugby league competition,” RLIF Chairman Nigel Wood said.
“It will put the spotlight on the fact that rugby league is played in more than 60 countries and give recognition to the many volunteer players and officials around the globe who do great things for this sport. One of the Board’ objectives in awarding the grant was to measure the event’s success by creating a legacy of participants returning to their nation to spread the interest and growth in Rugby League.
“People may not realise Canada has been competing internationally for 30 years, or that domestic leagues are now established in a wide range of countries for example in Hungary, Chile and Hong Kong.”
Western Sydney is set to be the hub of activity, with confirmed competition venues including Windsor, St Mary’s and Cabramatta. Alongside the ENWC the RLIF Board also endorsed the concept of a number of regional teams playing in a separate competition.
“The reason many of us love rugby league is because it’s open to everybody,” Mr Wood said.
“It is a sport that rewards flair and developing nations enjoy the fact it is uncomplicated by technicalities or expensive equipment.
“The game’s popularity is reflective of its ability to serve as a vehicle for positive life changes, and that will be demonstrated by the stories of players from many backgrounds participating in the Emerging Nations World Championship.
“I’m sure there will be rags to riches tales and, undoubtedly many players who dream of a professional contract but, regardless, this event will be something special within itself.”