IMG boss wants to take international side of game to next level

Siliva Havili Tonga international rugby league SWpix
Photo: PhotosportNZ/SWpix.com

IMG’s Vice President of Sports Management Matt Dwyer says the international side of rugby league is one which needs to be re-vitalised.

Last month, the Rugby Football League and Super League agreed a 12-year deal with IMG. They are a global management company, and will aim to re-imagine rugby league.

Dwyer wants international countries to grow playing rugby league along with clubs outside of the UK. In the current European Super League, only two teams take part – Toulouse and Catalans.

“The overarching point – which I think everyone would agree with – is that the international game is one which we really need to re-vitalise,” Dwyer told the BBC Radio 5 Live Rugby League podcast.

“You look at Catalans, they’ve been an extremely successful team. You can see the real benefit and the passion of their fans that they bring to the game. I appreciate the points that have been made about what they deliver from a commercial perspective.

“From our point of view, these are all aspects we need to look at. We’ve got the challenges of Toulouse at the moment in terms of whether they’ll stay in Super League next season based off their on-field performances.

“We’ve got the French World Cup coming up [in 2025]. That’s quite crucial for us. We’re going to be consulting with the NRL and understanding what their objectives are in terms of the growth of the game internationally too. Every aspect if going to be really important.”

Fixing Up with the World Cup

Issues within the international game are there for all to see, and have been widely documented.

Shaun Wane took charge of England in February 2020. Of course, the COVID Pandemic must be taken into account and is a contributing factor as to why, but the Wall of White have played just three games so far under his stewardship.

Two of those came against the Combined Nations All Stars. A side made up of players who only ever play together for that game each year. Dwyer is no different to most in seeking change.

He added, “We’ve all got an alignment that we need this international game, but the question is what the best way to support growth is.

“If we’re looking to expand and gain new fanbases, this international level of competition seeing the best level of players is going to be important.

“We’ve got some great momentum there with the World Cup this year, and we’ve got some teams who are really pushing on the international stage like Tonga.

“It feels like there’s a real opportunity for us to help develop that side of the game. We will push to have multiple teams that can beat each other. That’s what we want for the competitive balance of the game at international level.”

PODCAST: John Kear on international rugby league, re-structure & new Widnes role

LINKTREE: Love Rugby League website, podcast, app & Fantasy RL

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