By STEVE MASCORD
THE proposed professional rugby league team in New York has admitted it is highly unlikely to take part in the Challenge Cup next year as announced.
The storied knock-out competition’s draw was to be held in the Big Apple earlier this year in honour of the team’s plans to enter in 2021, until Covid-19 shut down the world economy,
Now New York Rugby League chief executive Ricky Wilby admits the team will probably be watching on when the Challenge Cup kicks off next year as he instead focuses on 2022.
“With Covid, it’s not great,” Wilby told the White Line Fever Kicks!
“With next year there is a definitive end date for when the season’s going to finish next year. There’s no definitive end date for this year yet so there’s no definitive start date for next year.
“Us trying to put a squad together and a roster together that would be competitive in Challenge Cup … that by no means is us coming in and saying we’re going to win Challenge Cup because we appreciate how difficult that’s going to be….
“…but just to be competitive and not get knocked out in round one and not get knocked out in round two…
“You get one chance to launching New York. We couldn’t afford to come in and get knocked out in round one or two. We’d want a decent Cup run.”
Wilby outlined how close the bid team came to a PR coup at the start of the year.
“When we launched in March the idea was to have a launch in the States the following Monday with the Challenge Cup draw. We had close to 50 members of the US media who planned to be there.
“We had the Empire State Building locked in to host the draw. Then they got told they couldn’t host it. We rearranged the draw to be held at Red Bull Arena. Then Red Bull went into lockdown. Only essential staff were allowed into Red Bull.
“Slowly but surely things were starting to go against us. I had to get an emergency flight back, 24 hours before I should have come back because we got told while we were there that President Trump was putting a travel ban on.
“We’ve done it tough over the last couple of months but we’ve got some good people working in the organisation, people working for the organisation, people working hard behind the scenes.
“We’ve still got ambitions to host events in 2021. They might not be the NRL teams against New York. It might be the NRL teams playing against the NRL teams or it might be precursors to the World Cup or it might be … international games, even a Nines tournament.
“We’ll definitely look at playing competitively in a league or a championship by 2022.”