On the eve of American National Rugby League's 17th season, officials are more hopeful than ever of securing RLIF member nation status which will revolutionise the code in the United States.
The AMNRL is the official governing body of rugby league in the USA and its incoming President, Curtis Cunz, said this year's competition would provide fans the greatest showcase of domestic rugby league seen in America.
Cunz said contrary to erroneous reports of the competition's demise, the AMNRL season would actually feature a quality of player and game rarely witnessed in America.
Cunz was elected president at the recent AMNRL AGM in New York. He was the World Cup tour manager of the successful USA Tomahawks and president of last year’s AMNRL premiers the Connecticut Wildcats.
In ever further great news, AMNRL clubs will participate in the Nines competition of their rival competition the USARL on May 17.
This is the first step in uniting the competitions into one league, which is ultimately what the AMNRL want.
It was an outcome that should have already been ratified, until USARL clubs backtracked on an earlier agreement to create a new governing body.
Cunz said he hoped the leagues could agree to play more cross-over games and depoliticise the code in America.
"I can’t wait to put the politics aside and see all of the boys I used to go to battle against back in the day and then crack a few beers open afterwards," Cunz said.
"The AGM re-enforced the democratic and transparent governance of the AMNRL and the shared vision of the member clubs.
"This is going to a great season of rugby league in the AMNRL featuring immense talent.
"Our games will be exceptionally competitive and fans will leave wanting more."
The AMNRL’s competition committee is finalising the details of the elite Eastern Conference competition under the guidance of Secretary Steve Thompson.
A draw will be announced soon but Thompson confirmed games would be played in the emerging Mid West Conference, the West Coast and Hawaii as part of the AMNRL’s commitment to grow the game across the USA but in a controlled and sustainable manner.
The AMNRL is confident of delivering several powerful conferences throughout America to mirror the Eastern Conference.
There has been much publicity regarding how the AMNRL would take advantage of the USA Tomahawks' “shock the world” campaign at the World Cup where the unheralded group of part-time footballers, featuring just five professionals in their ranks, made the quarter finals.
Cunz said the AMNRL is now working with the RLIF, the world governing body, to secure member nation status.
This will open government funding opportunities to implement youth development programs, strengthen the domestic competition and boost the league’s community engagement programs.
Engaging grassroots support and becoming intrinsic to school sport curriculum is crucial to the growth of rugby league in America.
"We are working hard on several other key initiatives that will be announced as soon as they are finalised that have the AMNRL clubs excited about the future of American rugby league," Cunz said.