Rugby League World Cup 2013 Tournament Director Nigel Wood has called for the whole sport to make the most of the many opportunities presented by the stunningly successful tournament.
Australia’s 34-2 victory over New Zealand in front of a capacity crowd at Old Trafford on Saturday brought down the curtain on the greatest Rugby League World Cup of all time.
The 28 matches were watched by record crowds and bumper television audiences and introduced new sponsors and thousands of people to the sport for the first time, many of whom will be keen to engage with Rugby League in the future.
“When the RFL was awarded the rights to stage this event in 2010 we were determined to deliver the best ever Rugby League World Cup and that has proved to be the case,” said Wood.
“In terms of attendance and TV audience, spectacle and profile, and commercial and financial success, the tournament has met, and in most cases exceeded, all expectations
“RLWC2013 has lit the blue touchpaper for every arm of the sport and it is my hope that everyone involved in Rugby League at every level makes the most of the opportunities that now exist for them.
“The success of the tournament provides the Rugby League International Federation with the resources to move the sport forward and we will be putting in place structures that ensure the legacy of RLWC2013 around the world is lasting and positive.
“The tournament underlined the importance, and appeal, of international competition and demonstrated that, following the hard work that has been done by the RFL, Rugby League European Federation and others, that the sport has more depth than ever before.
“RLWC2013 has also provided a terrific launchpad for Rugby League at domestic level and the RFL will be working with all our clubs, both at community and professional levels, to help achieve our goal of growing the sport and gaining the recognition it deserves.”
Rugby League World Cup 2013 matches were watched by over 450,000 people and saw sell-out crowds at a wide range of venues, including Huddersfield, Warrington, Rochdale, Halifax, Perpignan, Toulouse and Old Trafford.
The crowd of 74,468 for Saturday’s final was the best attended international Rugby League match of all time and took place just a week after 67,545 people packed Wembley Stadium for the ‘Big Hit’ semi-finals.
The Wembley double header offered telling evidence of how RLWC2013 captured the imaginations of the British public – for almost a quarter of the crowd, the matches were their first live Rugby League experience whilst 59 per cent of buyers came from London and the South East.
The RFL has already launched a number of initiatives to capitalise on the surge in interest in the sport, details of which are on the website www.extraordinaryrugby.com
They include Play Touch Rugby League, which gives people of all ages and abilities the opportunity to play the sport, and full contact details for anyone who wants to become involved in any capacity, from player to match official and spectator to volunteer.
RLWC2013 General Manager Sally Bolton also paid tribute to all the people who helped deliver a tournament that showcased the excitement and passion of international Rugby League in all its glory.
“I would like to thank all the people who have helped us realise our vision for the tournament: their enthusiasm, professionalism and commitment has been simply extraordinary and we have been privileged to have had the opportunity to work with them,” said Bolton.
“Without the players, coaches, support staff, match official, administrators, broadcasters, journalists, sponsors, host towns and cities, RLWC2013 and RFL staff and the marvellous Team 13 volunteers, we could not have achieved what we have on such a scale.
“Their efforts in Rugby League World Cup 2013 have been inspiring and infectious: I am sure that countless others will now have been bitten by the bug and as we head towards 2014, I think it’s safe to say that there has never been a better time to be a Rugby League supporter.”