The RLEF has published its 2016 annual report focussing on increasing participation numbers, strengthening the membership and building a more corporate body.
Twelve members, including seven of 10 Full Members, recorded participatory increases, with Jamaica the most productive. Across all competitions, the JRLA completed 138 domestic matches, compared to 100 in the two preceding seasons, and remains the fourth most active country in the RLEF. It also generated 55% of its revenue locally compared to 43% in 2015 and recorded its strongest balance sheet. Italy and Norway completed 100% of their scheduled domestic matches.
Underpinning the drive for ‘more rugby league, more of the time,’ the maxim coined in the strategy, the RLEF ran 12 technical courses – in the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden and Turkey – qualifying 29 Level 1 coach and match official educators, who in turn qualified 80 Level 1 coaches and match officials.
In a further example of devolving leadership, Serbian and Greek educators were deployed in Turkey to support the TRL Association’s burgeoning operation, whilst a Greek referee officiated the Spain versus Serbia international.
There were also encouraging signs of prudent financial management and sustainability. England’s RFL registered a 14th consecutive annual profit; Wales RL’s balance sheet finished the financial year in its strongest historical position, the Lebanese RL Federation received its highest sports ministry grant and is budgeting a 2017 surplus that will take it into the black for the first time since inception in 2002; the Czech RL Association has historic high cash reserves; and the USARL improved its financial position, doubling its cash reserves and generating 55% of its income internally.
Following a period of reorganisation, RL Ireland re-launched its player registration system and is confident of meeting senior participatory criteria in 2017, and Scotland RL hired a full-time development officer through sportscotland funding and continues to restructure, developing a solid foundation for future growth.
The year also saw the RLEF enhance its governance practices, issuing new loan guidelines to the membership as a protection against financial maladministration; adopting a new conflict of interest policy and, for the first time, appointing auditors.
The Board also performed a self-evaluation exercise, using ‘A Code for Sport Governance’ published by the UK national sports authorities in November, as a framework to assess the its own governance.