This afternoon has seen the powers that be – finally – confirm the mid season friendly between England and New Zealand in the USA with the ‘mile high city’ of Denver playing host to the match.
The company behind the 2025 North American RLWC bid, Moore Sports International, has announced that Wayne Bennett’s troops will head to the American city to face Stephen Kearney’s New Zealanders on Friday 23rd of June and the latter will hope to put in a strong performance to, in part, redeem his team from their appalling RLWC showing. Indeed, this match will be the first of four matches between the two rugby league international giants with the Kiwis visiting England in the winter for a three match series but there can be no doubt that, on paper, the mid season face off is the most intriguing of the lot.
Evidently, the fixture is another notch to North America’s expansion belt with Toronto already in the second tier with further American teams set to join the northern hemisphere club rugby league structure. Indeed, the organisers are clearly hoping that this fixture helps to harness further interest in the sport ahead of the 2025 showpiece. The fact that both nations have agreed to the contest highlights the belief the nations have that North America is a huge potential market for the sport with England head coach Wayne Bennett explaining that “this is the perfect opportunity to take two of the world’s elite nations over to a country that loves sport and entertainment.”
Furthermore, Bennett added that “for us to grow stronger as a group and build on the progress of last year, these are the games we need to be involved in. We saw the benefits of taking on Samoa mid-season ahead of the World Cup.” He further highlighted the array of sporting teams the city of Denver has, suggesting that it may well be the best city to showcase the game of rugby league.