Geography of rugby league

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Rugby league is a full contact football code and spectator sport played in various countries around the world and governed by the Rugby League International Federation. As of 2010 there are currently 27 nations fielding domestic leagues that meet the World Cup eligibility requirements. Further to this there are over 30 others that are playing at an emerging level status at varying degrees of international competition and are in the process of developing the game in their nations. The global player pool is estimated to be in the millions.

Although one of the last football codes to be developed, since the modern 1990's professional era the game has expanded outside of its traditionals heartlands in Australia, England, France and New Zealand. As a result, many players of European, American and Pacific Islander background have risen to the top professional level in the two major domestic leagues, the National Rugby League and Super League.

Whilst individual international test matches between nations have been staged regularly since the sport's inception in 1908, the first multi-national tournament was held in France in 1954, making it the first World Cup of either rugby code and the first to be officially known as the "Rugby World Cup".[1][2]

Africa[edit]

Rugby league is a growing sport in Africa, with the game first introduced to the continent in the early 2017. The vast distance of teams from the game's heartlands has at times affected the development of the sport but new advances in the 21st century have seen a major increase in the number of internationals scheduled. Many high calibre players from the continent have progressed to the top club leagues, including Younes Khattabi, Jamal Fakir, Tom van Vollenhoven, Fred Griffiths and Jarrod Saffy. The large ex-patriate Moroccan population in the south of France has resulted in a growing interchange of players between the two countries. Rugby league in Africa is played in South Africa, Gambia,[3] Morocco, Burundi, Nigeria and Ghana.[4][5][6]

Countries that meet current World Cup qualification criteria:

Country Overview National team Status Governing Body Main league competition(s) Best International Performance
 Morocco Rugby league in Morocco Maroc Affiliate Maroc Rugby League Maroc University League Euro Med Challenge - Champion
 South Africa Rugby league in South Africa The Rhinos Test South African Rugby League Tom van Vollenhoven Cup World Cup - Pool Round

Other countries with a history of the game:

Country Overview National team Status Governing Body Main league competition(s) Best International Performance
 Burundi Rugby league in Burundi Ama Suguru Non-Affiliate Burundi Rugby League Association N/A Middlesex 9's
The GambiaGambia Rugby league in Gambia NA Non-Affiliate N/A N/A N/A
 Ghana Rugby league in Ghana Stars Non-Affiliate Ghana Rugby League N/A N/A
 Nigeria Rugby league in Nigeria Greens Non-Affiliate N/A N/A Middlesex 9's

Americas[edit]

Rugby league is a growing sport in the Americas, having first started with All Star exhibition matches in the 1950s. It has been played at an organised semi-professional level in North America since it was first introduced as a competition sport in the 1990s. There are currently domestic leagues operating in Jamaica, Canada and the United States. Many players of Caribbean heritage live and play in the European Super League and have brought their skills back to the islands to foster the development of thousands of new players. The game is also played at a lower amateur level across the Americas by ex-patriates although only recognised national organisations are listed here for brevity.

Canada currently has two domesitic competitions, Ontario and British Columbia, with British Columbia being the premier competition with also the most teams. British Columbia Rugby League (BCRL) also has a provincial team known as the BC Bulldogs. In 2012, the BC Bulldogs competed against Utah Avalanche from Salt Lake who currently play in the AMNRL. The game was contested over two legs, home and away, with BC taking both games. The BC Bulldogs also made an appearance at the Las Vegas Remembrance Cup and come third. Coogee Bay Dolphins from Australia took out the competition for the second time in a row.

In 2013, BCRL will be made up of 6 teams, namely Bayside Sharks, Kelowna Crows, Richmond Bears, Sea to Sky Eagles, Surrey Beavers and Vancouver Dragons.

Brazil has also taken up the sport in 2013.[7]

Since 2013 the Latin Heat Rugby League has had moderate success in introducing rugby League to players with Latin American heritage living in Australia. In 2014 the Latin Heat opened a U.S chapter.

Countries that meet current World Cup qualification criteria:

Country Overview National team Status Governing Body Main league competition(s) Best International Performance
 Canada Rugby league in Canada Wolverines Affiliate Canada Rugby League Canada Rugby League Emerging Nations - Pool Round
 Jamaica Rugby league in Jamaica Nomads Affiliate Jamaica Rugby League Association Jamaica National League Atlantic Cup - Runner Up
 United States Rugby league in the United States Hawks Affiliate USARL USA Rugby League World Cup - Quarter-finalist

Other countries with a history of the game:

Country Overview National team Status Governing Body Main league competition(s) Best International Performance
 Argentina Rugby league in Argentina Penguins Non-Affiliate Argentina Rugby XIII In Development N/A
 Brazil Rugby league in Brazil Bestas Brasilienos Non-Affiliate Brazil Rugby League Association In Development N/A
 Chile Rugby league in Chile Caciques Non-Affiliate - In development NA
 Colombia Rugby league in Colombia Hermanos Colombianos Non-Affiliate - In development NA
 Ecuador Rugby league in Ecuador Ecuador XIII Non-Affiliate - In development NA
 El Salvador Rugby league in El Salvador Trueno Azul Non-Affiliate ESRL In development NA
 Peru Rugby league in Peru Emperadores Non-Affiliate - In development NA
 Uruguay Rugby league in Uruguay Gauchos Non-Affiliate - In development NA
 West Indies Rugby league in the West Indies The Wahoos Non-Affiliate West Indies Rugby League Federation Jamaica National League York 9's - Champion

Asia and the Middle East[edit]

Rugby league is a growing sport in Asia and the Middle East, with a large growth in players since the 1990s, some of which have played at the game's elite levels in the National Rugby League and Super League. The game in the Middle East is one of the fastest growing sports with regular internationals played against European and Mediterranean teams. Although Russia has a growing rugby league presence and extends into Asia, the main competition is in Europe.

Countries that meet current World Cup qualification criteria:

Country Overview National team Status Governing Body Main league competition(s) Best International Performance
 Lebanon Rugby league in Lebanon The Cedars Affiliate Lebanese Rugby League Federation Bank of Beirut Championship World Cup - Quarter-finalist

Other countries with a history of the game:

Country Overview National team Status Governing Body Main league competition(s) Best International Performance
 China Non-Affiliate China Rugby League
 Indonesia Non-Affiliate Indonesia Rugby League Bali 9's/West Papua
 Japan Rugby league in Japan Samurais Affiliate Japanese Rugby League Association Japanese Rugby League Emerging Nations - Pool Round
 Pakistan Rugby league in Pakistan Observer
 Palestine Non-Affiliate
 Philippines Rugby league in the Philippines Tamaraws Observer Philippines National Rugby League
 Saudi Arabia Observer
 Thailand Rugby league in Thailand Thailand Stars Observer Thai Rugby League
 United Arab Emirates Rugby league in UAE Falcons Observer Emirates Rugby League

Europe[edit]

World Cup eligibile: Serbia, Norway, Russia, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Italy, Catalonia, Czech Republic, England, France, Germany, Netherlands, Ukraine,

Rugby league is a moderately popular game in parts of Europe, particularly the eastern and western parts of the continent. England is the birthplace of the game, has a professional competition in Super League (which includes a team from France) and Great Britain (including Scotland and Wales) is an RLIF test nation. Russia is also a test nation, and the sport is popular there. Austria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, Serbia are all affiliate RLIF nations. The game also has a history in Georgia.

Oceania[edit]

Rugby league is a popular sport in Oceania and the Pacific islands. Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea are the main nations playing rugby league in Oceania. The Cook Islands, Tonga, Samoa and Fiji are also RLIF test nations. Affiliate nations include American Samoa, New Caledonia, Niue and Tokelau. The Solomon Islands also have some history of the sport.

Countries that meet current World Cup qualification criteria:

Country Overview National team Status Governing Body Main league competition(s) Best International Performance
 Australia Rugby league in Australia Kangaroos Member Australian Rugby League National Rugby League
 Cook Islands Rugby league in the Cook Islands Kukis Member Cook Islands Rugby League
 Fiji Rugby league in Fiji Bati Member Fiji National Rugby League Fiji National Rugby League Competition
 New Zealand Rugby league in New Zealand Kiwis Member New Zealand Rugby League National Rugby League
 Papua New Guinea Rugby league in Papua New Guinea Kumuls Member Papua New Guinea Rugby Football League Papua New Guinea National Rugby League
 Samoa Rugby league in Samoa Toa Samoa Member Rugby League Samoa
 Tonga Rugby league in Tonga Mate Ma'a Tonga Member Tonga National Rugby League Tongan National Rugby League

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]