RFL Chairman Richard Lewis today gave an assurance that the sport’s governing body will do as much as possible to maintain the momentum that has seen thousands of people experience Rugby League in Wales at first hand for the first time in recent years.
The decision earlier this week by the Directors of Crusaders to withdraw their application for a Super League licence has raised doubts over the sport’s future viability in Wales but Lewis insists all is not lost.
“The developments at Crusaders are undoubtedly a setback but we are speaking to the club about the possibility of them having a presence in the Co-operative Championships next season as well as exploring other options,” said Lewis.
“Rugby League in Wales has made massive strides in recent years and I am confident we can build on that burgeoning popularity, both in North Wales and South Wales.
“For all the well-documented problems the Crusaders have experienced, the sport has gone from strength to strength at community level and the health of those grass roots bodes well for the future.
“Our commitment to the sport in Wales has not diminished and I am sure the people of Wales will continue to respond in massive numbers to the opportunities they have to play and watch Rugby League.”
The popularity of Rugby League in Wales is supported by the progress made by South Wales Scorpions who take on Rochdale Hornets at The Gnoll in Neath this Sunday (kick-off 3pm) and is expected to increase with a growing international flavour over the next few years.
In November a Four Nations fixture between Wales and Australia will be staged at the Racecourse Ground in Wrexham whilst Wales will co-host the 2013 Rugby League World Cup.
The rise of Rugby League in Wales over the last few years is illustrated by the statistics: in 2009 the sport had around 2,000 active participants but that figure has now increased to over 7,000; there are currently 53 junior teams in Wales, 41 more than just three years ago, during which period the number of Welsh schools in the Carnegie Champions Schools tournament has risen from 60 to 158.