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Australia’s NRL mulls buying English Super League: report

Sydney (AFP) – Australia’s cashed-up National Rugby League is considering buying the English Super League, a report said Saturday, a move that would have ramifications for teams and players in both competitions.

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The Sydney Daily Telegraph reported the NRL had begun investigating the financial viability of taking control of the English game as part of its bid to grow the sport, which is hugely popular in Australia.

It comes as the NRL prepares to open its season next weekend in Las Vegas — the first time competition games have been played in the United States as the sport’s powerbrokers target the lucrative American market.

The Daily Telegraph said a third party had approached NRL bosses regarding the potential purchase of the English Super League.

Should the takeover be successful, the best players could potentially move between competitions and countries within a single season.

The NRL could not immediately be reached for comment, but rugby league boss Peter V’landys signalled to Australian media this week that he wanted to penetrate the English market.

“We already have Super League and there’s hardly a (NRL) subscription sold in England,” he said. “So we’re going to attack that market as well.”

The potential move comes after the NRL reported 18 percent growth in revenue to Aus$701 million (US$460 million) — including a Aus$58 million profit — from a record-breaking 2023 season where television viewers, attendances and participation were all up.

Former Australian international Matty Johns, who played for both Australian and English clubs, backed the move.

“The rumour I’m hearing, and it’s getting stronger, is that the NRL is seriously looking to possibly buy the English Rugby League,” Johns, now a pundit, said on local radio.

“And that way it broadens the base and it adds to the depth of both competitions because players can go over and have guest stints.”

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