Eric Perez outlines three bold goals for rugby league newcomers Cornwall

Cornwall RLFC

Cornwall founder Eric Perez has named three ambitious objectives for rugby league’s newest club.

Professional rugby league will head to Cornwall for the first time after they were given the go ahead to play in League 1 next season.

Following the decision to relocate Canadian club Ottawa Aces to permanently relocate to the UK, Perez has taken the ‘licence’ they purchased from Hemel Stags to the south west.

Perez said: “We’re permanently re-locating back to England. Moving to Cornwall makes it a truly national sport.

“I’ve been working on this for about four or five months now. If you dig deep into it, Cornwall and the north of England are extremely similar places, with its culture and industrial history with its mines and fishing.

“The class system is not there. It’s a rugby league place waiting to happen and it’s the first true south west expansion.

“There’s a massive untapped talent resource there because everybody in Cornwall picks up an oval ball.

“I have three goals. One is to walk out at Old Trafford for the Super League Grand Final, the second is to build up rugby league across Cornwall and the third is to have Cornish players playing for England.”

ACES MOVE: Ottawa Aces relocate to Cornwall

Eric Perez confident Cornwall expansion will be a success

Eric Perez
Perez was the founder of Toronto Wolfpack

Perez handed control of Toronto to Australian businessman David Argyle before the club reached Super League and fell into financial trouble during the pandemic. However, he is confident his venture will succeed where a host of other expansions have failed.

He said: “This isn’t going to be like the other expansions have been in England.

“There are no professional summer sports in Cornwall. That makes us a tourist attraction and puts us in a unique position. The population triples in Cornwall in the summer, from 600,000 to 1.8million.

“This is an untapped gem. I spoke to pro clubs and cities the length and breadth of the country and no one area put together the kind of package that Cornwall can.

“People say why don’t you go to Birmingham or other big cities. But truth is: rugby league would get lost in those places, whereas in Cornwall we can actually make an impact.”

COLUMN: Toronto cannot headline a decade of expansion fails

Cornwall to start as part-time club

Eric Perez insists his project is fully financed, with the money that was going into Ottawa having been diverted to Cornwall. He says the ownership group comprises of representatives from both Canada and the south west of England.

The squad will initially be part-time. Perez says an announcement about the coach will be made in the coming days. Former Catalans Dragons boss Laurent Frayssinous was due to take charge of Ottawa for 2021. He remains involved despite his appointment as France national coach.

Perez is confident he can win over the doubters when he presents his plan to a meeting of Championship and League 1 clubs on Wednesday.

He said: “Because the Cumbrian teams got promoted and Newcastle are already in the second division, the furthest drive is six hours. For most it will be around four hours.

“We can do something special here, this is a long-term project. You are not going to see us setting the world on fire like we did with Toronto in year one.

“We’re going to build this sustainably over time. We want to enrich the general tapestry of English rugby league. I personally would like to be in Super League within seven to 10 years.

“There is already a lot of grassroots activity which we will be supporting and the Cornish Rebels are going to be a feeder club.”

READ MORE: Championship ins and outs for 2022: Signings and retentions club-by-club

5 Comments

  1. Cannot see this really getting going, his audience is very limited geographically would have made much more sense to have gone to Bristol much bigger catchment area.
    Away fans are not going to go down there on a Sunday in the summer.

  2. It makes more sense than having teams from the Americas. I for one will be travelling to Cornwall when Keighley Cougars play them. I’ll probably make a long weekend of it.
    What’s not to like.
    Well Done RFL for giving it a chance. At least it gets a chance to succeed.
    Well Done Eric Perez for persisting.

  3. There’s a glimmer of a chance. Bizarrely, there was an amateur rugby league of four clubs in Plymouth for 2-3 seasons around twenty years ago – any form of rugby is popular in the south-west. I am from Cornwall.

  4. I’ve been to Cornwall many times and I’ve always thought about the lack of major sports clubs there. Maybe the people there aren’t interested in sports clubs, but I’d say almost every population in the world has an interest in sport amongst them, so there’s likely to be some interest.

    You have to travel some way inland to find major teams of any sport, like Bristol, Torquay, Plymouth etc.

    Anytime you go to Cornwall, you can see the display of Cornwall as a place and people distinct within the UK. The Cornish flag is seen all around, the white Cross against a black background. The rugby league team can be something to represent that Cornish pride or independence.

    I spoke to someone I know who is a former pro union player about the team being moved to Cornwall and they said they should probably be able to attract players there, with all the Southern Hemisphere players attracted to the whole surfing lifestyle and culture that is present in Cornwall, so they should, if they have a decent financial backing, be able to attract players a little easier. You can bet there’s also plenty of UK players that would snap up being paid pro wages to live in Cornwall.

    They need to take it a bit slower than Toronto, don’t go crazy and give Sonny Bill Williams, despite the attention it brought, the most expensive contract of any rugby player (maybe it brought them a profit, I don’t know), and try to build a solid championship team. Just take a look at some of the non-French players who have gone to play in the French league system over the past few seasons, and you’ll see how smaller teams in smaller leagues can attract players with the offer of a nice lifestyle.

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