After defeat to the Cook Islands in their 2021 Rugby League World Cup qualifier at the weekend, South Africa has confirmed that their next step in rebuilding their international presence is to compete in the 2020 MEA Championships.
South African Rugby League Sporting Association president Dr. Frans Erasmus (pictured) commented: “SARLSA is excited and keen to be part of the MEA Championships next year, which will be a highlight on the calendar. The organisation is on the eve of new beginnings and the tournament comes at the right time for us. We have signed a memorandum of understanding with SARU (South African Rugby Union) as an affiliate member. That enables us to have access to SACOC (the Olympic Committee), schools and will enable us to apply for government funding and recognition.”
Erasmus also confirmed: “We have initiated negotiations with the SA Rugby Wheelchair Association to establish a rugby league wheelchair team, which we are hopeful will become a reality in the near future. We are busy developing the sport at school level and projects undertaken so far have been successful and well attended. We are looking forward to having a junior competition in place next year.
“Our senior championship starts on 31 August 2019 and goes through to the Grand Final on 21 April 2020. SARLSA is convinced that we can make a major contribution to the development of rugby league in Africa and that we will be able to showcase the game to a very wide spectator base. Recognition means that we can now make use of our sports media and reach school kids, university students and all other rugby spectators. This will definitely spread the word that rugby league is alive and well in RSA.”