IMG’s plans for international game including alignment and an annual fixture

IMG will look to focus on international Rugby League as “a vehicle for growth”.

The sports agency have made a raft of recommendations for the sport, including a big shake-up at domestic level, but they are also looking to internationals as a key part of their strategy.

Their vice-president of sports management, Matt Dwyer, said: “More internationals are wanted my our existing fanbase, and we also know that the international game is a key part of attracting new fans.”

IMG spoke to both IRL, the international governing body, and the NRL as part of the wide consultation ahead of making their proposals.

They want to ensure both hemispheres are aligned for an international window each October, supporting moves by the IRL for a long-term calendar with an extended period for matches at the end of each domestic season which the NRL have indicated their support for.

But IMG are also keen to maintain the mid-season international weekend, proposing annual fixtures for England against France across the men’s, women’s and wheelchair teams.

“I think there is a combined attitude that we want this international game to work; our part of that is to align our calendar to make sure we’re available to play in the October window,” said Dwyer.

“We want to do our part in terms of growing the game in the northern hemisphere, and that’s the reason for the French international and having that as an annual feature.”