Rugby league is a game that is forever expanding, and whilst it may be an audacious bid, it may well come to fruition – but international rugby league bosses have put forward a proposition, with the desire to potentially have the game of rugby league played at the Commonwealth Games, as early as 2018.
In a sign that rugby league is also gaining international notoriety, the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), granted the sport a “Category Three”.
“Category Three sports are those that we recognise as working towards future inclusion,” CGF vice-president HRH Tunku Imran said at the time.
The recognition however is just the first piece of the puzzle, with the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF), hoping that one day, rugby league can be on the same plateau at Olympic level, as the Rugby Sevens tournaments.
“It is a genuine vision of ours,” said international chairman Scott Carter, who also doubles as chairman of the New Zealand Rugby League.
“The role of the RLIF is to grow and foster the game internationally. If we look at where the Commonwealth Games actually has a role to play, it’s to have medal sports that are the most meaningful to Commonwealth nations.
“There are quite a number of Commonwealth countries for whom rugby league is an important sport.
“Category Three basically gives us official recognition. It is a stepping stone to rugby league potentially becoming a medal sport.
“But there are other hurdles to overcome along the way before rugby league would indeed, or could indeed, become a medal sport.”
With the RLIF’s plans to implement rugby league into the Commonwealth Games, it coincides with the 2018 Games being held on the Gold Coast, Queensland, which is a populous rugby league area.
“I think there’s a distinct possibility that rugby league could at least be included as a demonstration sport in the Gold Coast,” he said.
One potential problem the rugby league implementation into the Commonwealth Games will see however, is the game’s current format – with the possibility of having to alter the format for the games, a very real possibility.
“That’s a distinct possibility, an abbreviated form of the game,” Carter said.
“Because it’s early days, I think there are a number of things that have to be practically explored.
“What we are mindful of is that the sports that are very, very similar in origin or concept, sometimes the game’s body has to make a fundamental choice.”