John Kear hopes RFL’s partnership with IMG will breathe new life into international rugby league

Drew Darbyshire
John Kear Championship

Wales head coach John Kear says that he wants a new lease of life to be brought to international rugby league via the RFL’s partnership with IMG.

Set up in May, the newly-founded partnership is set to last for 12 years. IMG’s remit is to reimagine rugby league and its competitions in the UK.

The agency are set to focus on restructuring competitions. They will also produce content to spread the word of the game through various channels.

New Partnership is Exciting

“We’ve got to sort something out, there’s no doubt that. It is exciting that we’ve got this new marketing group coming in,” said Kear.

“We have got to look at our game and make sure internationals are featured prominently at a certain stage of the season and make sure clubs buy in to it.

“We’ve got to try and find – somehow – in the Northern Hemisphere, a way of kicking our international game on as they have in the Southern Hemisphere with State of Origin and the vast investment the NRL has put into the South Sea Islands.

“Anyone who watches the State of Origin will know why the NRL is of such a high standard and why Tonga, Samoa, New Zealand and Australia can put out such good teams internationally. Intensity and skill level of those games are phenomenal.”

North Should Follow South

Kear, 67, has headed up Wales since 2014. He has previously coached both France and England at international level, as well as a multitude at club level.

Formerly at Castleford during his playing days, Kear took the helm at Championship club Widnes earlier this month.

Prior to Wales’ first international game for close to four years this weekend, he added, “The standard of international football in the Southern Hemisphere is phenomenal.

“We’ve got to find a way of generating that interest of prestige and development in the Northern Hemisphere. That’s why I’m proud of our philosophy of really growing the player reservoir in Wales and using the Welsh-born players as the core of our group.

|There are lots of people who are going to be involved in the consultation [with IMG], including fans. I just think there needs to be something that grows the profile and grows the prestige of representative rugby league in the Northern Hemisphere.”

Kear’s Wales side take on France in Albi this Sunday. The game kicks off at 2:30pm UK time.