RFL Chief Executive Nigel Wood has hailed the 2011 Gillette Four Nations as a great success, despite England‘s defeat in the final last Saturday.
With a sell-out crowd at Elland Road and a return to Wembley Stadium for a memorable double-header earlier in the tournament, international Rugby League demonstrated it is in rude health as the countdown continues to the 2013 Rugby League World Cup in England and Wales.
“The Gillette Four Nations was a great success because it illustrated how important international competition is to the sport,” said Wood.
“It was a pleasure and a privilege to welcome the best rugby players on the planet to the UK throughout a tournament which produced high calibre matches from first to last.
“I believe we got the selection of venues just right and it was particularly pleasing to take international Rugby League back to Wembley, which hosted two terrific spectacles.
“It came as no surprise that we were able to post the ‘House Full’ notices for the final and the atmosphere at Elland Road was magnificent, just as it was at Leigh, Hull and Wembley for England‘s group games.
“The tournament was watched by more people than have ever turned out for a Four Nations tournament in this country, with an aggregate attendance of over 128,000 which bodes well as we continue preparations for what we believe will be the most successful Rugby League World Cup ever in the autumn of 2013.”
The host venues for the 2013 Rugby League World Cup will be announced next Monday when Wood expects the anticipation to build even further, two years and two days out from the final of the 14-nation tournament.
“The Gillette Four Nations has whetted everyone’s appetite and there is a real desire for more international competition across the sport,” said Wood.
“We have so much to look forward to as we approach next year and we hope to be in a position to announce our international calendar for the next 12 months in the next few weeks.
“England made encouraging strides during the Four Nations and though it’s disappointing that they were unable to get the result we all craved in the final, the experience will stand them in good stead.
“Steve McNamara and his players are to be congratulated on their efforts over the last six weeks and I am sure they will all be better for the experience.
“As happened after last year’s tour of Australia and New Zealand, we have instigated our customary rigorous review of all aspects of our international operation to ensure that we learn all the lessons we need to and are stronger in every way in future.”