Peter Illfield

Players, mainly associated with the stalled North American Rugby League (NARL), are pressing for the chairman of the US Association of Rugby League (USARL) Inc, Peter Illfield to step down.

The players say they are dissatisfied with the way in which the national governing body has been guiding development of the game in the US in recent years, particularly at the national team level.

“Yes, I asked Peter Illfield to stand down based on the current state of the national team, lack of funding over his tenure, the performance over the last 10 years and more reasons,” CEO/Co-owner of the New York Freedom Rugby League club and former USA captain Mark Offerdahl told Rugby League Planet.

Offerdahl has circulated a petition calling for those involved in the game, either directly or indirectly, to support the effort to have Illfield stand down.

The petition states in part, “The US national team should be the pinnacle of the US competition for rugby league players.  Currently, players and prospective players are unable to play, adequately prepare and travel due to a lack of leadership, funds, and support from USA Inc.”

The petition can be seen in its entirety here https://bit.ly/3lNyFTi

For his part, Illfield tells RLP that he has advised Offerdahl that there’s a constitutional and democratic process that can be taken should anyone wish to challenge any position of the USARL board, and/or the chair.

As a sidebar to this, many of the same players have also indicated that they are prepared to boycott selection to the men’s national team, USA Hawks should nothing change going forward.

Several teams that had been part of the USARL domestic competition defected to the NARL earlier this year and most of the players with those teams, along with others on new teams, made it clear that they wanted nothing more to do with the USARL, preferring to pledge their allegiance to the breakaway league.

That raised the question of their eligibility for potential Hawks’ selection. Under International Rugby League (IRL) regulations, a player is not eligible for national team selection if he/she plays in an unsanctioned competition.

The IRL has said it will not endorse the NARL if it is not sanctioned by USARL, and to date, the USARL has not done so.

The notion that players would boycott selection has not impressed USA Hawks head coach Sean Rutgerson. He told RLP exclusively he is disappointed that they haven’t expressed their issues directly.

“Rather than communicating the problems they had in regard to the competition, they launched a coup with complete disregard to how it would impact half of the players in the country,” Rutgerson said.

“I’ve been involved in professional rugby league for years so it’s hard to relate to the unprofessionalism of those who would attempt to start a new competition instead of communicating their grievances.

“I hope they will join the sanctioned competition where they can bring their ideas to the table for everyone to vote on.”

Brian Lowe
Brian is a strong and effective communicator with more than 30 years’ experience in broadcast and electronic media. He has been writing for Rugby League Planet since 2012 and is frequently the first reporter to break news stories about the sport. He has been our North American correspondent reporting on news in the US, Canada and Jamaica covering everything from league standings to strategy analysis to breaking news on key trades to editorials and colourful features on athletes. He is now writing about rugby league on a broader scale to cover developments around the globe. An accomplished storyteller, Brian started his career in Australian radio, before moving to the United States. He is an experienced podcast host and producer and is also a successful TV commentator having done play-by-play and analysis for ESPN, FOX Sports and the Rugby League European Federation (RLEF) among others.