Ralph Rimmer on rugby league expansion, including Toronto and London

<> at Sixfields on December 1, 2011 in Northampton, England.

Interim RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer was grilled recently on the expansion plans for the game, with noise building around potential further teams from North America.

New York have launched a bid to join the RFL structure, while there is talk of teams being established in Boston and Hamilton.

Six new clubs have joined League One in the past five years, including Hemel Stags, Gloucestershire All Golds, Oxford (all 2013), Coventry Bears (2015), Toulouse (2016) and Toronto Wolfpack (2017).

Are there more clubs knocking at your door following the success of Toronto?

“I think Toronto have given us something that we have never had before. It was a leap of faith and it’s certainly been of worth them coming in to League One. They are being assessed currently on what their return of investment has been, we have to make sure the game gets the right bang for its buck.

“Assessing Toronto’s impact will obviously give us more of a feel of what other entrants might give to us. There’s a risk involved and that’s why we’re doing a piece of work at the moment based on what each of those potential non-UK based clubs can bring to us.

“I wouldn’t say there’s a fixed number of places either available or not available (within the structure). Everyone that comes in have got to contribute to the competition, and they all have to be worth the central distribution they are given.”

Are you disappointed with what’s happened to Gloucestershire?

“I’m disappointed to some extent. We need to push boundaries and not everything works out the way you want it to. We said the four clubs were coming in and we’re going to see how they go. I think if you look at Coventry, there has been some worth out of it.

“We are disappointed that some of them haven’t made the impact we wanted to, but nevertheless we shouldn’t try to stop doing things, we should always try to be innovative and grow the game.

“Gloucestershire and Oxford may well now produce a bigger club in Bristol with some significant investment there. Some we’ll win, some we won’t, as long as you go in with your eyes open, a bit like we have with Toronto, and you say this is a journey to try and get some organic growth then it’s good for the game.”

Does the game need a London team back in Super League?

“We’ve had a London team in Super League before. We shouldn’t forget that both London Skolars and Broncos are clubs owned by individuals and they run the businesses the way they like.

“We speak regularly with them but we cannot guarantee any success they may have. You can’t suddenly wish London into the Super League.

“We would like some success in London of course we would, it’s the capital city and it’s a huge brand across the world. We are a northern based sport, ew have integrated well with the Northern Powerhouse and so we are focusing on our traditional areas with a bit of expansion going on in different areas.”

Rimmer is a contender to replace Nigel Wood as chief executive as the RFL, with no timescale currently set on any decision or announcement.

2 Comments

  1. Agenda, appeal to the heartland and manifesto so perhaps he needs to offer to build a wall and get a catchphrase like “The EU will pay!”

  2. Again we have the same captains steering the boat.I agree with expansion but we should also look after our own first.To say that TORONTO will not automatically be in super league if they win the CHAMPIONSHIP what a smack in the chops for them. We have already seen what CATALAN bring to the table NOTHING in support and need many overseas players because there own are declining.

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