In the lead up to their participation in the Americas Qualifiers for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup, against Chile, Jamaica and USA, and with their 2018 domestic season nearing completion, the board of the Canadian Rugby League has been restructured and bolstered.
Representatives from each of the domestic rugby league organizations; Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario were voted on as CRLA directors under newly-elected president, Bob Jowett. “I am honoured to be given this opportunity to promote the sport in Canada and look forward to working with both the board and other supporters of rugby league to increase awareness of, and participation in the game, throughout the nation,” he said.
“The new board is balanced with directors from across the country, each of whom brings their own special attributes and skills. With champions of women’s and junior rugby league on it and with the constitution allowing the board to appoint additional directors, there is every reason to be optimistic about the future of rugby league here.”
The full board comprises of: Bob Jowett, Ontario, president, Josh Knight, BC, vice president, Danny Tupou, Ontario, secretary, Lawrence Ross, Alberta, treasurer, and Thomas Hughes, Alberta, director of rugby.
Their immediate aims are to achieve financial stability and assist the national team in their Rugby League World Cup Qualifying tournament, scheduled for November/December in Jacksonville, Florida. Winning that would see the Wolverines qualify directly for the 2021 World Cup to be held in England. There is a further play off scheduled in 2019 for the side finishing second in the group.
Longer-term goals include growing participation to make rugby league one of the top five most popular sports in Canada and gaining recognition by Sport Canada. “League one of the most accessible and exciting sports, with the opportunity for almost anyone aged from 4 to 84 to play some version, it will therefore be the responsibility of the CRLA to open up opportunities,” Jowett added.
“We aim to offer the chance to participate to all Canadians irrespective of gender, age, race, sexual orientation, background, income status – to be genuinely all-inclusive. I have been fortunate in seeing first-hand how welcoming the sport can be and the positive influence that the game can have on people’s lives.”
On the field, Ontario’s significant 24-12 touring victory at Chicago Stockyarders followed the successful completion of the Ontario Rugby League domestic season. Teams from Toronto, Scarborough and Brantford competed, with the Brantford Broncos emerging as champions for 2018.
On the west coast, the British Columbia season has also wrapped up. Teams from Vancouver, Surrey, Capilano and Abbotsford battled it out with the Vancouver Dragons dramatically defeating the Capilano Cougars 26-24 to claim their first championship.
The Canadian domestic season will finish with three teams challenging to become Alberta Rugby League champions in September and October.
In addition, the CLRA are building closer links with professional side Toronto Wolfpack, who play their first home game in the Super 8s Qualifiers this weekend against Hull Kingston Rovers, as they seek a place in Super League.
“We have strong ties as fans and working cooperatively to build the sport here, and whether the Wolfpack achieve promotion to Super League this year or sometime in the future their supporter base, including the CRLA, is behind the team all the way,” said Jowett.