RFL Chief Executive NIGEL WOOD is also the Chairman of the Rugby League International Federation. At the end of a momentous year, both domestically with a new Canadian team in the RFL’s competitions, and internationally, with a thrilling World Cup, he talks to AARON BOWER of LEAGUE EXPRESS about the current state of the game.
Aaron Bower (AB): Fresh off the back of a hugely compelling World Cup, what do you make of the health of international rugby from the RFL’s perspective?
Nigel Wood (NW): What the tournament should tell us, if nothing else, is that international rugby of any kind cuts through more than anything else. It’s what drags new people into the sport and we’ve got an obligation as administrators to create the most compelling international fixture list as possible.
AB: But what do we do between now and 2021 to keep that going?
NW: Well, in terms of ourselves, we know what England are doing in terms of inward tours from New Zealand and Australia in 2018 and 2020. We know a Lions tour will take place in 2019, too.
AB: Will you build on the success that Pacific Rugby League has had recently during that tour?
NW: Hopefully. One of the interesting things about the last few weeks has been the emergence of those nations and there are now facilities in places like Port Moresby where you could confidently take international athletes. I’m acutely aware that the other nations the RFL have some association with – Wales, Scotland and Ireland – need a proper fixture list too. We’ve got to do something for Pacific rugby, too: because the emergence of Tonga, among others, has been a real joy. That’s something the RLIF will be addressing in the next three to six months.
The full 2-page Q&A can be found in the new League Express. Buy in stores now or online at totalrl.com/le.