Chairman of the Rugby League European Federation, Richard Lewis has hailed the success of the Alitalia European Cup which was won by Wales on Saturday following a dramatic 12-11 triumph in Albi.
The victory sees Iestyn Harris’ men qualify for the 2011 Four Nations tournament where they will face England, Australia and New Zealand.
Speaking after Ireland faced Scotland in the sixth and final match of the three week competition, Lewis said, “The Alitalia European Cup has been a huge success on so many fronts.”
“The competition went up a level when such high profile sponsors allied themselves to it and their confidence in the sport and the product has been matched on and off the field.”
“There have been some terrific clashes, not least Wales’ two one-point wins to bring them the ultimate glory not least yesterday in a match that had huge meaning and resonance. The French were devastated to miss out which shows how much the competition means.”
He continued, “Attendances have been significantly up especially in France and totalling around 40,000; television coverage and viewing figures have been similarly excellent – particularly on French terrestrial TV - and there has been worldwide interest in the outcomes.”
“Each of the four competing nations have managed as well as staged their home fixtures and the professionalism displayed has been another highly uplifting feature.”
“Coupled with the expanded RLEF Board and further developments such as next weekend’s Nordic Cup, the progress being made across the northern hemisphere is genuine and seemingly sustainable.”