Rugby league heading in right direction, says Barwick

RFL Chairman Brian Barwick has expressed his belief that Rugby League is entering a sustained era of success.

On the day of the launch of the 2014 First Utility Super League season, Barwick is predicting that the sport he joined 12 months ago is facing a positive future. 

Super League last week secured a ‘game-changing’ new contract with Sky Sports from 2017 to 2021 which came a few days after the clubs voted to introduce new competition structures from next year and First Utility were unveiled as the new title sponsors of Super League.

“The whole sport has embraced a fantastic new future over the last couple of months and I feel privileged and proud to be a part of it,” said Barwick.

“We ended the 2013 season with two memorable Grand Finals involving Championship and Super League clubs and the game has been on a roll ever since.

“As well as delivering the most successful Rugby League World Cup of all time, securing a lead sponsor for Super League and other new partners, and hitting our participation targets with Sport England, we have also signed a broadcast contract this week which reflects the faith, confidence and admiration there is for the quality of the product delivered by our Super League clubs.

“I would like to congratulate Nigel Wood and the RFL Executive on securing what I believe is a truly significant broadcast deal which will help Super League continue to be a completely compelling competition, as well as nurturing and fostering other elements of the game.

“As I know from experience, you need a hard hat when you’re Chief Executive of a governing body but Nigel and his team deserve praise for what they have delivered.”

The RFL is currently working on the details of the new structures that will come into effect in 2015, when the top two divisions will each comprise 12 clubs that split into three groups of eight in the latter stages of the season, and Barwick has no doubts that the new format will be successful.

“Over the last couple of months we have tried to build a positive path for the future, firstly by restructuring the game from 2015,” he said.

“I think it will be a tremendous success and will deliver competitive games all the way to final hooter of the season. I believe in it, and it would appear that so, too, do a great many others.

“There are hearts and minds still to be won and that’s a challenge we are determined to meet.

“During my first year as RFL Chairman I have witnessed at first hand some clubs struggling to make financial sense of the sport, which is disappointing but understandable given the economic climate out there.

“Whilst it’s clear that some clubs just have to try harder to manage their affairs better, the new broadcast deal delivered this week gives the whole game an opportunity to put some of those issues behind them.

“I think the sport is moving in the right direction, although we take nothing for granted.

“We all need to continue to work hard to make sure the sport is the success it truly deserves to be and I look forward to being a part of this great journey.”

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