BUILD UP CONTINUES FOR WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS
As the Rugby League International Federation prepares for its annual meeting in Auckland next week, Rugby League World Cup 2013 organisers are happy with the progress being made in preparation for the two qualification tournaments that will be held in October 2011. The European Group features Italy, Russia, Lebanon and Serbia and games will be played in all four nations before the dramatic double-header final round in Belgrade, which should decide who qualifies for the Finals in England and Wales.
The Atlantic Group preparations are also progressing using the latest technology to host planning meetings. David Niu, the leader of the American National Rugby League and his team have been in regular on-line meetings with RLIF Officials as they prepare to host Jamaica and South Africa in Philadelphia. As well as guiding and overseeing the planning for hosting the Tournament, Niu is also at the heart of preparations for the new AMNRL season. Penrith Panthers coach Matty Elliott is on board as supremo for the Tomahawks and he is eager to blend together the best of the USA domestic players with those qualified from the professional ranks drawn from across the globe. Niu is excited by the possible pool available and highlighted the growth of activity in Hawaii from where they will draw some talented and physical athletes.
Niel Wood, RFL Director of European Development - who is responsible for the organisation of the Rugby League World Cup 2013 Qualification Tournaments - commented, “This is one of the most exciting phases in the development of our sport, seven nations all training hard on their own plans and supported by the RLIF and its member nations to try to achieve their goal of qualification for the greatest Rugby League competition ever.” “Only two will ultimately get through but everyone will be in a better condition after the tournaments. In addition, many other nations are eyeing the process enviously as they try to meet the criteria to qualify for 2017. I know Canada have certainly set their sights on that goal.”
Wood continued, “Liaising closely with David Niu has renewed an old acquaintance for me. I worked with him on the 1995 USA v Ireland game held in Washington DC and I know what a success that was. Since that day David has worked tirelessly and in sometime difficult circumstances to establish the game in the States. This year could represent the dawn of a great era for the game in the USA as we see strong domestic competition developing and the chance to reach the World Cup.”