RFL Chief Executive Nigel Wood believes Rugby League witnessed the birth of a sporting success story on Friday in the CarPlan International Origin Match between England and the Exiles at Headingley Carnegie Stadium, Leeds.
The fixture, a new concept which saw England lose 16-12 to an Exiles team drawn from the best overseas players in Engage Super League, produced an absorbing contest of the highest quality which Wood feels can only grow in stature in the years to come.
“There is always an element uncertainty with any new venture but no-one was left in any doubt on Friday night that the International Origin Match hit the ground running,” said Wood.
“The match made for a terrific spectacle which I’m sure everyone in attendance and the hundreds of thousands of people watching on TV will have appreciated to the full.
“Our main objective was to create a genuine competitive fixture that gave England the intensity they require to prepare for the Four Nations in the UK this autumn and that’s just what we got.
“The thrilling nature of the match, the pace and the quality of the skills on display all testified to the calibre of players we have in Engage Super League, wherever their country of origin.
“Whilst we will undergo our normal review process from next week, when full consultation will begin with all stakeholders, there is little doubt that this fixture has longevity.
“I would like to place on record my thanks to the players and staff involved in both teams for the part they played in a wonderful sporting spectacle tonight and to the fans who created a tremendous atmosphere.
“The attendance of 14,174 was very pleasing, especially as many of those fans will also be out supporting their clubs over this weekend, and I’m sure we can all look forward to even bigger attendances in years to come.”