The Nigerian Rugby League Association (NRLA) has successfully co-ordinated a bid for Nigeria to host the 2019 MEA Rugby League Championships, the first time such will be held in West Africa.
The championships to be staged at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos between Oct 4th and Oct 8th will feature teams from other African countries including Morocco, Ghana and Cameroon.
To ensure that the tournament captures the attention of audiences across Nigeria, games will be televised live on Super Sports and Bein Sports. Winners will be also given a seeding in the world rankings and guaranteed a place in the qualifying competition for the 2025 World Cup.
Speaking at the formal announcement of the association, and hosting of the MEA championship, NRLA Chairman Abiodun Olawale-Cole explained the rationale behind the organisation and its ambitions:
“We have watched for too long wondering why a nation the size of Nigeria, blessed with so many athletes, are not a major force in the world of rugby league. The NRLA is absolutely committed to delivering the 2019 MEA championships as a showpiece event for Rugby League in Nigeria, to building a globally competitive national team and to establishing a domestic league that will provide the next generation of Nigerian players.”
NRLA Vice Chairman and General Manager, former professional player Ade Adebisi also gave some insights into the existing pool of Nigerian talent, and how the NRLA intends to build a domestic Nigerian league to institutionalise the sport across the country.