RFL Chief Executive Nigel Wood has pointed to the victories by Leigh Centurions and North Wales Crusaders on Northern Rail Finals Day as further evidence of an exciting year for Rugby League.
The Crusaders defeated London Skolars 42-24 in the inaugural Northern Rail Bowl at The Shay, Halifax, in the first of a pulsating double header which ended with Leigh beating Sheffield Eagles 43-24 in the Northern Rail Cup final.
â€œMy congratulations go out to everyone involved with North Wales Crusaders and Leigh Centurions on their terrific victories on what was a memorable day for the whole sport,â€ said Wood.
â€œThe Crusadersâ€™ success in their first final was fully deserved and it was good to see â€“ and hear â€“ their supporters turn out in such numbers to cheer them on.
â€œThe atmosphere created by the Leigh fans was a credit to their club and Iâ€™m sure made a difference for a team that started out as underdogs against the 2012 champions.
â€œLondon Skolars and Sheffield Eagles can take some consolation from their involvement in a day which captured the vibrancy and exciting drama of Championships Rugby League.
â€œJust 10 years ago it would have been unthinkable that teams from Wales and London would contest a major final and the success of the Crusaders and Skolars offer compelling evidence of the burgeoning appeal of Rugby League.
â€œThe Championships are providing the sport with a new geographical footprint and clubs like Oxford, Hemel Stags and Gloucester All Golds will take great heart from what can be achieved if they work as hard as North Wales and London Skolars have.
â€œFollowing the fantastic success of the Festival of World Cups, and sandwiched by the Tetleyâ€™s Challenge Cup quarter-finals and semi-finals, the Northern Rail Finals Day helped demonstrate why 2013 is such a special year for the sport.
â€œAnd with the Tetleyâ€™s Challenge Cup final, Championships Finals Day, Super League Grand Final and the Rugby League World Cup still to come, 2013 promises to get even better.â€