Ralph Rimmer admits the RFL have to ‘build momentum’ to restore importance and prestige to the international game, after setting the barometer low for a targeted crowd for this Sunday’s Test at Anfield following a disappointing turnout on Saturday in Hull.
Only 17,649 watched England’s 18-16 win against the Kiwis at the KCOM Stadium on Saturday – almost 6,000 down on the crowd that watched the same game at the same venue three years ago.
The 2016 Four Nations final saw over 40,000 people watch Australia v New Zealand at Anfield. But, as international rugby returns to Liverpool this Sunday for the first time since that game, Rimmer admits the target number is much lower, while also conceding they have work to do in anticipation for the 2021 World Cup on these shores.
“We’re on a roll now to 2021 and we need to create some interest in international Rugby League. We certainly have to build more momentum to get back to where we were three years ago,” he said, after Saturday’s game.
“Anfield is a big stadium and a fantastic venue and we know that they host Rugby League really well, so we would like a big kick-on and I would hope we would have in excess of 25,000 there. We’ll see what comes out in the north west.”
On Saturday’s crowd, Rimmer conceded: “The crowd was slightly disappointing. Clearly being live on the BBC helps and everyone who watched it will have seen the type of match that these two teams are capable of creating. Anyone who watched that match will want to come next week, I have no doubt about that.”