Ireland aiming for Super League franchise

Expansion in to Ireland could be next on the Super League agenda after the RLI revealed it’s ambition to have a top flight club in the next five years.

Rugby League Ireland currently has registered 20 clubs throughout its 32 counties and their three provincial league season runs over 14 weeks.

This weekend a Scouting Academy is being held at Tom Clifford Park in Limerick, involving fitness testing, interviews and a game watched by head coaches from top Super League clubs including St Helens and Wigan.

“Rugby League has been growing significantly in this country in recent years and the idea of this academy weekend in Limerick is to give players of high ability an opportunity to sign with some of the top clubs,” said Gordon Matthews, general manager of Rugby League Ireland.

He added that his organisation wanted to recruit young Irish players who will hopefully help to strengthen the Emerald Isle’s participation in the World Cup in 2013: “We have been encouraged by the response in Limerick this week. Within five years we hope to have a Super League team in Ireland with high profile games being played at venues such as Thomond Park.”

Young Munster back-row and Ireland rugby league international Brendan Guilfoyle was of the view that many senior rugby union clubs throughout the country did not have a problem with players playing rugby league during the summer break:
“There are a lot of benefits and this academy provides an exciting opportunity for young players who wish to further their careers,” he noted.

The RFL’s Neil Wood was also present to discuss the prospect of the Irish rugby league franchises taking part in Super League in the future.

Since its inception in 1996, Super League has seen two French teams – Paris St Germain and Catalan Dragons – as well as Crusaders, who have been based in both south and north Wales in their short tenure.

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