Pivotal rugby league officials from as diverse a selection as the USA, Italy, the Philippines and Latin America will speak on Saturday evening at a special gathering of international rugby league pundits in Brisbane.
Following the success of Tonga and Lebanon at the 2017 Rugby League World Cup, all eyes are on the next crop of nations to put pressure on the leading nations.
Saturday’s public gathering at The Malecon Cuban Rum Bar, opposite Suncorp Stadium on Castlemaine Street, will explore which nations are looming on the horizon and discuss ideas to spread the game’s international footprint.
The evening will help raise funds to bring players from Latin America to this year’s Emerging Nations World Championship in western Sydney – the first time a team from the continent has been invited to a major global league tournament.
With the USA also set to face Chile in a 2021 World Cup qualifier later this year, it’s a timely chance to preview that clash with special guest Steve Johnson, former football manager of the USA Tomahawks, director of Hawaii Rugby League and Western Corridor NRL bid leader.
Chilean director Rodrigo Millar, who helped coach Chile to the first ever Latin American Rugby League Championship, will reveal how his home nation on the other side of the Pacific is emerging from the shadows.
Meanwhile Filipino board member and ex-player Michael ‘Nugget’ Godfrey will explain how his nation has become the fastest rising team in Rugby League International Federation rankings.
The Philippines has jumped 10 places in the rankings and there have now been 10 Filipino players to play first grade league, including recent Brisbane Broncos debutant Payne Haas.
Last, but certainly not least, Italian president Orazio D’Arro will reveal how the sleeping giants of Europe are making inroads in a nation that is mad for soccer, as well as discussing Italy’s future Rugby League World Cup aspirations.
Players and officials from multiple other emerging nations will be present in the intimate setting, with guests free to mingle among the dignitaries and players.
An auction of rare rugby league memorabilia will feature a signed USA Tomahawks 2013 football, jerseys from Africa, a signed jersey from Portugal, a Philippines jersey featuring Manny Pacquiao, a jersey from the first ever game played by Latin America, a Maltese Phoenician Cup jersey, plus many, many more items.
The evening runs from 6-9pm on Saturday, May 26, with tickets available for $25 either on the door or in advance by emailing Robert@sambatimes.com
The evening includes:
? Complementary drink on arrival
? Interviews with international league identities
? Rugby League door prizes
? Rare memorabilia auction
? Food available to order
? Mingle in an intimate setting with fellow international league enthusiasts
✌All proceeds go to assisting Latin American players to attend the 2018 Emerging Nations World Championship