Chairman of the bid committee and RLIF Vice-Chair, Nigel Wood said “This was not a simple decision but with fans of international Rugby League buoyed by the recent success of RLWC2013, we were determined to get it right.”“Both bids were thoroughly compelling but the joint Australia/New Zealand bid was selected as the one with the greatest chance of success in providing more compelling games in world class environments in front of big, passionate crowds.”
“The bid from South Africa was very strong, prepared professionally and clearly demonstrated a passion for Rugby League that is growing by the day in that country.”The Australia/New Zealand bid hopes to expand the sport in other territories in both countries. Australia won the 2013 RLIF World Cup in the United Kingdom and hopes that they can defend the title again in 2017. The expectations for the 2017 World cup will be high as the 2013 World Cup, hosted by England and Wales, was a tremendous success and the Super League has seen the benefit with new broadcasting and sponsorship deals concluded on the back of a very successful World Cup.
Kobus Botha, President of South African Rugby League, congratulated Australia and New Zealand on their winning bid, stating: “South Africa will now endeavor to work with the ARL and the RLIF to ensure the growth of the sport and will look at sending a strong team to the 2017 World Cup to compete for the final.“
Botha also emphasized that this does not mean that South Africa will stop in its quest to develop the sport, and that SARL and the RLIF have already entered into discussions to look at ways of developing the game in South Africa through a series of international tournaments and exhibition matches to ensure that South Africa is in an optimal position to host the 2021 RLIF World Cup.
“All of the facilities and aspects unique to South Africa to ensure expansion of the game is still available to the RLIF and also the ARL and NZRL to ensure the positive growth of the game in South Africa.”
Ian Riley, CEO of the South African Bid was also quick to point out that the Bid for 2017 was not a waste but have very positive spin-offs. “Rugby league in South Africa now has a voice, and the process of bidding has allowed SARL to start the conversation with SASCOC and SRSA and SARU towards recognition and support. It has also created dialogue between developing countries, and has shown willingness by other countries to also get involved and play a role in developing the game. We are in discussions with the RLIF on creating a 7 year roadmap for rugby league in South Africa and other territories to see how we can collectively grow and develop the sport.”