The Rugby Football League are likely to hold further meetings with Matchroom Sport and Eddie Hearn in the coming months as the prospect of a working relationship between the two parties increases.
Hearn met acting RFL boss Ralph Rimmer in London in Monday for an informal get-together, after the boxing supremo’s recent comments that he would be interested in helping improve the exposure and promotion of rugby league.
And Rimmer told the Guardian that he was encouraged by what Hearn had to say – and potentially offer – to help rugby league. “I’m heartened by anyone who wants to give up their time to talk about rugby league and show a genuine interest in the sport – and Eddie Hearn is certainly in that bracket,” he said. “He gave us a couple of hours of his time for the sake of a cup of coffee, and I’m certain we’ll stay in touch. We’ve already talked about future points of contact.
“He’s got an interest in the sport and a bit of knowledge on it, and he always gives value to whatever and whoever he works with. He certainly gave us some value yesterday, in regards to how we utilise social media properly and how best to grow the sport. We spoke about how best to build characters within the sport and how to promote them properly, and he was very embracing.”
Rimmer also confirmed they will almost certainly meet again in the not-too-distant future, and admitted himself and Hearn had already struck up some potential ideas from their first meetings. “Those ideas will remain private for now, but it’s clear we can do some work with one another,” he said. “Mark [Foster, Super League director] and I both came away with some triggers being pulled inside our head about potential ideas.”
Rimmer also insisted Hearn was fully aware a working relationship with the RFL would not lead to any form of ownership – citing the Hearn family’s previous involvement with Leyton Orient as proof they can work within team sports, as well as individual sports such as darts and boxing.
“It wasn’t a fact-finding mission, it was more a chance to get to know each other. He’s got a good knowledge of team sports already because the Hearns owned Leyton Orient, so they understand the dynamic between clubs and a governing body. He knows it isn’t a possibility to ‘own’ rugby league or any team sport, but this is an exciting opportunity for everyone.
“I’ve invited him up to a game or two, and I’ve extended that invite to some of his boxers, too. He’s a sports fanatic and he’s got a pretty good handle on most sports: including ours. There’s always been an affinity between boxing and rugby league so I wasn’t totally surprised of this interest.”