Wood embraces World Cup’s success but insists that global 
calendar needs rapid attention

Nigel Wood, tournament director for Rugby League World Cup 2013.
Nigel Wood, tournament director for Rugby League World Cup 2013.
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THE Rugby League World Cup 2013 produced a record profit of more than £3.7m.

Organisers of last autumn’s tournament yesterday published their official review which highlighted significant breakthroughs for the sport in a number of areas.

Given the financial calamity of the previous World Cup hosted on these shores, in 2000, which actually left the Rugby Football League in debt, clearly it was imperative this competition finished in the black.

It did that to the tune of almost double the £2m profit generated by the prior World Cup held in Australia in 2008.

Tournament director Nigel Wood also revealed details which painted an encouraging picture of the effect RLWC2013 had on the social, economic and cultural landscape as well.

For instance, he says the 14-nation tournament – which involved 28 matches played at 21 venues with a total attendance of 458,463 – commanded a UK television audience of 13.3m, saw 14 per cent of ticket purchasers attending their first rugby league game, and had a direct economic impact on hosts England and Wales of £9.6m.

Undoubtedly, the Rugby League World Cup – staged so efficiently, bringing vivid colour and boasting a series of classic matches – created a genuine feel-good factor for the sport.

Wood says the tournament – which boasted eight sell-outs, eight stadium record crowds and an international record attendance of 74,468 for the final between victorious Australia and New Zealand at Old Trafford – helped improve its reputation enormously and opened up numerous new audience bases.

RLWC2013 helped the sport break free from one of its stereotypes with 38 per cent of tickets sold to people residing outside the North of England while more than 12,500 indicated they had been inspired to begin playing rugby league,.

However, Wood expressed his frustration that there is still no detailed plan for international rugby league over the next four years. The Rugby League International Federation announced last month that the 2017 World Cup would be jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand yet England still do not know when their next fixture will be played.

The 2014 Four Nations schedule is set to be announced this morning, with Brisbane hosting a double-header on the weekend of October 26, England taking on Australia in Melbourne a week later and Wellington staging the final on November 15.

But that has left tour organisers just six months to put together packages.

Wood wants some of the RLWC2013 profit to be used to create a full-time RLIF executive and will call for a qualifying tournament for the 2017 World Cup to be put in place as a priority when he attends the annual meeting in Sydney on May 2.

“We owe that to the (smaller) nations,” said Wood, who is deputy chairman of the RLIF. “They need to know what they are playing for.

“We believe the international game is capable of a lot more than is being delivered at the moment. You want to capitalise on how international rugby league has been elevated.

“I think most sports would expect to know where the following season’s internationals were being played.”