Director of Rugby and Performance Mike Eccles believes a positive Rugby League World Cup can inspire more people in the south-east to connect with their local club in 2023.
The tournament, which concluded on Saturday, was watched by almost 30,000,000 UK viewers via the BBC with the average match attracting 13,667 supporters.
London’s Emirates Stadium hosted England’s semi-final with 40,489 fans cheering on the host nation as they lost 26-27 to Samoa.
Eccles believes the heartache of losing via Golden Point should not overshadow the interest and engagement the World Cup generated and instead hopes the tournament inspires more people to make Rugby League their sport of choice in 2023.
“It was a brilliant tournament and really helped put Rugby League on the map,” said Eccles. “I think it made everyone connected to the sport very proud to be part of it and only added to the anticipation ahead of the 2023 season.
“The coverage across the men’s, women’s and wheelchair tournaments was outstanding. I’m confident it will inspire a new wave of Rugby League fans not only in the north but also in London and across the south-east too.
“There were some edge-of-your-seat moments which no doubt appealed to first-time viewers. Hopefully as a sport we can use that to our advantage and look to grow the game from foundation level upwards.
“I thought Australia were very impressive throughout the men’s tournament and were deserving winners. Their resilience and determination shone through, and we must congratulate them on their success.”
There was plenty of London Broncos interest in the tournament with multiple players representing their respective nation, including newest recruit Henry Raiwalui who played for Fiji.
Others involved were Dean Parata and Ronny Palumbo (Italy), Wellington Albert (Papua New Guinea), Paul Ulberg (Cook Islands), Dalton Grant (Wales), Alex Walker (Scotland) and Lauren Mueller (Canada).
Academy graduates Mike McMeeken and Kai Pearce-Paul also took to the field representing England.
Eccles added: “I know it meant so much to every Broncos player past and present who stepped onto the field to represent their country. It would’ve been a fantastic experience for them and to have several players in our 2023 squad involved is something we should be proud of.
“A special mention must go to Academy graduates Mike McMeeken and Kai Pearce-Paul. Their appearances for England underline the strength of our Academy and Scholarship pathways and prove opportunities for talented young players based in the south-east are there.
“We have positive ambitions for next year and will continue to work hard through the remainder of pre-season to make 2023 a success on and off the pitch. Hopefully the World Cup can act as a catalyst to attracting more people to the Cherry Red Records Stadium.”
London Broncos 2023 Betfred Championship campaign begins on Sunday, February 5, at the Cherry Red Records Stadium in Wimbledon against Batley Bulldogs.
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