RFL Media Briefing Part 2

RFL boss Nigel Wood says there are no plans to make it mandatory for every club to field a reserve team.

Wood also said talks are ongoing on the format, host country and amount of teams for the World Cup Series next year.

The RFL’s chief executive gave a media briefing today on issues such as reserves, Salford, crowd numbers and the future of Magic Weekend.

Here is a selection of the topics raised and Wood’s views:

RESERVES
– The RFL won’t be making it necessary for every club to field a reserve team.

“I know we are expected to lead, but we lead by consent of the clubs, and the position of reserves is some people think it’s essential, others think the best way to develop fringe players is to put them into the best standard of competition, which is the Championship or League One (on dual-registration). Currently, the RFL role is to facilitate both. I would prefer there was a unanimous position, but that’s for the clubs to reach.

“This is about putting the player at the centre of the discussion.”

WORLD CLUB SERIES

– The host country and the amount of teams for the World Cup Series next year has yet to be finalised.

“The expectation is it will be over here, but there are a number if discussions which don’t preclude a match taking place in Australia. There is a lot of discussion going on – what the World Club should look like, at a bare minimum, it should be two games over here – the Grand Finalists – but it may be bigger than that. It may be three or four games.

“We have to work with the NRL to see what they want out of it as well, some people there think it should be two, three or four teams (each), some over there want to host it… it’s about getting some common (ground). It’s a difficult one to pull together.

“We could easily have matches in either hemisphere. The underlining point is we all want to continue international club competition, in the most compelling and affordable way as we can – there’s no retreating from that position.”

SALFORD
“We live in a world where people can say what they want, reasonably. The rules are the rules. I’m not going to dignify some of the comments by [Koukash].

“Truly, I have a £60m business to run here, we have issues with England, promotion, plenty of things, without worrying about what one person says. We had an AGM of clubs last Friday, Salford were present, and nothing was forthcoming. Everything is media-noise, from what I can see.

SPONSORSHIP
– Sponsorship is enjoying modest growth year-on-year. First Utlity’s naming right sponsorship finishes at the end of this year.

“We are talking to them. We’re led to believe theyre very appreciative of the relationship.”

GROWING SUPER LEAGUE
– There is room for growth.

“We’re not concerned, we can be over obsessed by attendance figures. There is quite a bit of scope to make Super League bigger. It’s a crowded market because you can now watch any sport from anywhere in the world, so you have to fight for air-time and presence, that’s why events like Magic work well for us because they give us some cut-through.

“But yes, I think there is room for growth. I think the thing which would light the touch paper for the sport, is if we do well internationally – that’s when we will get a fundamental shift in awareness. International sport cuts through like nothing else.”

MAGIC WEEKEND
– A decision to be made soon on whether Magic Weekend will be in 2017, with the tender closing at the end of July.

“Everyone would like certainty as soon as possible.”

INTERNATIONAL PROGRAMME

– The International game can be boosted and improved.

“The international game needs to be as compelling as possible, and I don’t think it is yet. I can only speak for this country, we would welcome a stronger and deeper international programme – within the current window provided. We would happily see our team play four or five times a year.

“The strategy for the international federation is to run the best World Cups it can, and then run a second global tournament in the intervening period, and that still leaves two years for bi-lateral Test matches for England, Lions tours, Kiwis or Kangaroos tours. I think we can get to that.”

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