RFL boss Ralph Rimmer excited about rugby league’s ‘watershed moment’

RUGBY Football League chief executive Ralph Rimmer admits it is critical for the sport’s future it gets its next steps “right” but believes potential new partners will help them do just that.

Ralph Rimmer. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

Rugby league has come in for heavy criticism of late with many people growing disillusioned with how the game is being governed and there are fears matters could get worse especially with a significantly reduced broadcast deal starting next year.

The RFL and Super League have been working together to try and realign after the bodies essentially split in 2018.

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However, a strategic working group has also been set up in an attempt to help plot a way forward for a long-lasting format and event calendar.

There has been too many competition restructures to mention during the summer era and there is a belief somebody outside of the RFL and Super League needs to finally address the issue.

With that in mind, Rimmer says they will be utilising outside influences to instigate change.

He said: “We’ve been through a cycle that brings us to this point: a good place. When we speak to externals on what we’re doing they seem extremely motivated and the amount of unsolicited contact we’ve had from potential partners – really highly credible partners – has been provoked by some of the changes they know are happening.”

Other sports are being bold with new concepts, cricket introducing The Hundred this summer and rugby union last week announcing details of a World 12s competition.

It is crucial rugby league now promotes itself correctly and Rimmer admits there is no scope for more failed restructures.

He said: “It does have to be right. If you look at the way sport is working, everybody is trying to grab that space.

“You look at women’s sport and the way it’s grabbing space at the moment, and you have to be part of that movement. There are only so many hours of TV people can put out and will pay for, so standing still is absolutely not an option. This is a big roll of the dice and what I want is that extra validation on whatever it might be.

“This cannot be a Ralph Rimmer idea, or a (Super League interim chair) Ken Davy idea.

“It has to be far, far more than that. It has to be ‘this is our partner, this is what we’ve come up with, this is the reason why, this is the evidence that tells us this is the right way forward’.

“We’ll have to hold our hands and go together and I mean everyone – Super League, Championship, League 1, community, international – this is what binds us all together.

“I, we, Ken, our partners and the Super League board need to have something that gives us enough confidence to say that.

“It is a watershed moment. But it’s not one I’m afraid of; it’s one I’m pretty excited about.”