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RFL boss Richard Lewis this week tried to scorch rumours that the 2006 Tri-Nations will not be held in Australasia as planned. Reports on the weekend indicated that the ARL were concerned that, with the prospect of a poor crowd to a possible Australia-NZ final, this years tournament will run at a loss. However according to Richard Lewis such concerns have not been discussed at Federation level. Lewis told the BBC, ?I?ve had no indication of any question marks or issues about the Tri-Nations future?
When interviewed on the weekend ARL chief executive Geoff Carr told The Sunday Telegraph that while the Tri-Nations is an important event, ??our focus is and must be on the 2008 World Cup?. Carr believes that while last years Tri-Nations was a commercial success (making a ?750,000 profit), the RLIF can no longer afford to financially support tournaments as they did at the 2000 World Cup.
Ironically concerns about financial viability may have been alleviated by Great Britains dominant performance on the weekend. The 38-12 defeat of the Kiwis on Saturday has set up what will surely be one of the most exciting fortnights in International Rugby League. All three teams can make the final, while both the Kangaroos and the Lions play for their survival on Saturday night.
While crowds are down around 5,000 per game on last years figures, such a dramatic finish to the tournament has already had a positive effect on ticket sales. A capacity crowd is expected at KC Stadium this weekend, while a full house is expected at Elland Road if the Lions reach the final. No matter who fights out the final Australian and New Zealand fans hope this years Tri-Nations will at least break even, ensuring them a chance to see such a high quality tournament on home soil.