Rugby League’s success as a growing international sport has been recognised by the Commonwealth Games Federation at their meeting in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur.
The Federation today gave its unanimous support to an application for Rugby League to become a Category Three sport, an important step which will enable the sport to continue to expand and develop across the globe.
The application was presented to the Sports Review Committee of the Commonwealth Games Federation by a delegation from the Rugby League International Federation led by David Gent, Chairman of the RLIF’s Commonwealth Commission.
“This is an exciting day for Rugby League and I would like to place on record my thanks to the Commonwealth Games Federation for their support of our application,” said Gent.
“Rugby League has a long tradition of being played in Commonwealth countries and so this recognition by the CGF will ensure that the game continues to prosper in regions such as Europe and Oceania.
“Recognition by the Commonwealth Games Federation will also enable Commonwealth countries in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Caribbean to develop the game and help the RLIF strengthen competition at a Commonwealth and world level.”
Category Three recognition is an important first step towards presence at a future Games and will allow Rugby League to work with the regional Commonwealth Games associations on development projects.
Commonwealth Games Federation vice-president HRH Tunku Imran said: “Category Three sports are those that we recognise as working towards future inclusion and we are very pleased to see the high level of commitment by the Rugby League International Federation to further develop the sport across the Commonwealth.
“It is a key criteria that any sport on our programme is played widely across as many of our member nations as possible.”
Rugby League’s successful inclusion followed an eight-month application process steered by the RLIF’s Commonwealth Commission, representing all six regions of the Commonwealth Games.
Richard Lewis, the Deputy Chairman of the RLIF and Chairman of the RFL, said recognition by the Commonwealth Games Federation has deep significance for Rugby League.
“This is the first time we have had official recognition by a global multi-sports organisation and is a massive step forward for the sport,” said Lewis.
“Although it does pave the way for Rugby League to be played in future Commonwealth Games, that’s not what this application is about. In the short- to medium term, Commonwealth Games recognition will help us realise our ambitions to further establish Rugby League as a truly international sport.”
The officers of the Commonwealth Commission, which will now draft a Commonwealth development strategy, comprises Eric Perez (Canada Rugby League and Americas), Sue Morris (Jamaican Rugby League Association and Caribbean), Anthony Micallef (Malta Rugby League and Europe), Louis Fourie (South Africa Rugby League and Africa), Asia (no representative) and Colin Love (Australian Rugby League and Oceania); Richard Lewis (RLIF), Nadene Conlon (New Zealand Rugby League and ‘athlete representative’) and Danny Kazandjian (co-ordinator).