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22 hours ago
The Rugby Football League on Friday outlined plans for a Lions tour to the southern hemisphere included in an exciting "road map" for the international game.
RFL executive chairman Richard Lewis, who is vice-chairman of the International Federation, says officials at their recent meeting in Leeds mapped out outline plans for the next eight years.
Among the highlights are a Great Britain tour down under in 2010, another Tri-Nations Series in this country in 2009 and a World Cup, also in Britain, in 2012 or 2013.
"Our road map for the international game is very clear," said Lewis. "We know what we want to achieve, it?s a question of delivering it."
Lewis, who revealed this year?s Gillette Tri-Nations Series made a profit despite Great Britain?s failure to reach the final, said the triangular tournament had raised the profile of the international game.
He is confident the 2006 series which will be co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand will whet their appetite for the 2008 World Cup down under.
Lewis confirmed the start of the 2008 Super League season would be put back at least six weeks to accommodate the World Cup, which will be held in March of that year, and that next year?s European Nations Cup would be used as part of the qualifying process which will see two European nations join England and France in the main draw.
He also revealed plans to expand the proposed 2009 series involving England, Australia and New Zealand to include the French.
The national team will, after next year, only come together as Great Britain for Lions tours, with England taking on the New Zealand tourists in 2007.
Attendances for the recently-completed Tri-Nations Series were down considerably on the 2004 event which made a profit of ?750,000 but, although the audit has yet to be completed, the tournament finished in the black.
"Clearly it will not be anything like last year but it exceeded our budget expenditure," said RFL operations director Nigel Wood. "It will definitely make a profit."
Wood also revealed that most Super League clubs are operating at a loss, although finances are improving across the board.
"No more than three Super League clubs are in profit but the level of losses has come down significantly since 2001," he said.
"Although there is much to do, we are making progress."
Super League attendances have increased each year since 2001 and Lewis said today television audiences were up by around 30 per cent this year, with League matches watched by an average 150,000, rising to 200,000 for the play-offs.
Meanwhile, the RFL on Friday launched a new corporate identity, complete with new logo, in an effort to maintain the game?s recent progress.
"We want the RFL to be seen as modern, dynamic, commercial, caring and professional," said director of marketing Simon Malcolm.
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Thanks to www.superleague.co.uk for this report.