RLWC monies to be used to grow grassroots

TOP TIER: The Rugby League World Cup final was played at Old Trafford.
TOP TIER: The Rugby League World Cup final was played at Old Trafford.

With the money in the bank, the Rugby League International Federation is now tasked with spending it wisely to grow the sport.

The World Cup, won yesterday by Australia, has made about $6 million for the federation (RLIF). It is the only income stream for the sport's international governing body and chairman Scott Carter says they have big plans for it.

The RLIF doesn't have any staff, but it has been agreed by the member nations to establish an executive to run the game and employ a full-time chief executive and other staff; and establish offices.

Some of the money from this World Cup will go towards establishing that, although the New Zealand, Australian and English rugby league bodies will also contribute extra money towards the project.

Carter said they intend to invest in the grass roots of the game to help make it a more global sport.

"Money by itself doesn't achieve anything, it's what you do with it that really matters," Carter said.

"First of all, the legacy of this tournament will once again be a profit that can be reinvested into the game.

"If we look specifically at this tournament, what really stands out is the investment monies from the last five years has been well spent. There were more nations that were competitive than there have been in the past and some very entertaining matches."

Australian media has reported there will be 16 teams at the 2017 World Cup, which will be held either in South Africa, or jointly by New Zealand and Australia. But Carter said they're looking to keep it to 14 nations.

"[The] 2000 [tournament in England] still haunts us, [but] 2008 got the sport back on the map and has provided the capital to develop the game and it is flourishing," he said.

"[The] 2013 [tournament] will continue that legacy, 2017 has to deliver the same. So one of the things that puts that at risk is an expanded competition. The more teams, the more cost and there is more risk of having meaningless fixtures.

"One can be critical and say there is still too big a gap between Australia, New Zealand and England and the other nations, but that would be churlish now.

"Amongst those second-tier nations there were some really tight and unpredictable results.

"That's what you want, you want entertainment, you want genuine contests and the challenge for us is to get those next-tier nations strong enough to seriously challenge the traditional countries."

While this World Cup ultimately ended in failure for the Kiwis, Stephen Kearney felt the tournament as a whole had been a success.

"I reckon it's been wonderful," Kearney said.

"It has been a real credit to the English game and the way they've organised it. The crowds have turned up, every game we've had it's been pretty much full and we've been well received."

Rugby League World Cup 2013 matches were watched by more than 450,000 people and saw sell-out crowds at a wide range of venues, including Huddersfield, Warrington, Rochdale, Halifax, Perpignan, Toulouse and Old Trafford.

The 74,468 crowd for the final was the best-attended international rugby league match of all time and took place just a week after 67,545 people packed Wembley Stadium for the "Big Hit" semi-finals between New Zealand and England, and Australia and Fiji.