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In a New Year message to members of the RLIF, Chief Executive Officer, David Collier has highlighted some of the successes of 2016.

Much has been achieved in 2016 within the international game, not least more sanctioned matches being played than ever before in a calendar year.

We have continued to spread the geographical net wider, including a landmark toehold in South America which now sees every continent staging meaningful domestic fixtures.

More nations are included on the official World Rankings in which there has been significant movement for such as Scotland and Jamaica after their laudable performances, and Australia returning to the top following their Ladbrokes Four Nations success.

The qualifiers for next year’s World Cup were completed and gave rise to some terrific contests, congratulations to Wales, Ireland and Italy for booking their places in the southern hemisphere in 2017 for what is shaping up to be another formidable showcase for the international game.

The Board has reviewed bids for the next two World Cups which form a significant part of our planned long term calendar. England have been named hosts in 2021 and, significantly for the sport, the Board recommended USA and Canada to host, subject to due diligence and completion of the Host Contract, taking rugby league to a potentially massive market four years later.

The importance of progressing the award of the 2025 tournament with nine years to prepare the ground should not be underestimated. Not only is it a huge opportunity to promote and build the sport globally but agreement so far out illustrates the growing strategic cooperation amongst the RLIF members which augurs well for the future.