Leeds Rhinos chief executive predicts ‘tremendous long-term effects’ of Rugby League changes

LEEDS RHINOS chief executive Gary Hetherington has urged Rugby League supporters to get behind the game going into the 2023 season because he believes it could be on the verge of a transformational change for the better.

Last Wednesday’s Rugby League Council meeting saw a presentation by the game’s new partner IMG, which saw the clubs updated on a variety of issues including the appointment of Rhodri Jones as the new Managing Director of Rugby League Commercial (RLC), the new body that will be charged with boosting Rugby League’s income from sponsorship and other sources.

IMG, which has signed a twelve-year agreement, will have a seat on RLC and are expected to be a driving force in that organisation, with a new TV contract to be negotiated from 2024 onwards.

“The recent reorganisation of the administration of Rugby League will have tremendous long-term effects and I’m not sure most people really understand that,” said Hetherington.

“The last four years were very difficult for the game after Super League effectively established a separate administration from the RFL in 2018.

“Clearly that didn’t work as its proponents hoped it would, but now the game has come back together and, with the involvement of IMG, we at last have the potential for Rugby League to achieve its commercial potential.

“I’m confident that when future Rugby League supporters look back at the 2022 season, they will recognise that the agreement with IMG and the creation of Rugby League Commercial as a joint venture company were historic decisions on a par with what happened in 1895, when the Northern Union was created, or 1995, when Super League was created and the game switched to summer.

“I’m confident that, with IMG working with us, Rugby League’s ability to market itself will be radically transformed in the coming years and the clubs and RFL should take credit for this.”