The Sports Authority of Thailand has recently approved (September 15) the Rugby League XIII Sports Association as the registered body govern the game of Rugby League in the Kingdom of Thailand.
David Collier, CEO of the Rugby League International Federation, was delighted with the news and looking forward to further advancement in the ASEAN region.
The Thai board is comprised of several well-known and credible local personalities including sports legend and female athlete Ratalalin Kaewpan, as the Chairperson of the new board. Joining Ms Kaewpan on the board are respected local individuals, Pornnapa Chaiwangrach, Vice Chairperson and owner of the Mountain View Group of Companies as well as academic lecturers Nitiwat Puaprasert and Siripan Kiattong as Association Secretary.
Rugby League in Thailand has had a slow start but quickly gained momentum due to the physical nature of the sport and the entertainment value seen on TV via the NRL Australian Competition and English Super League Competition.
The Asia Pacific Rugby League Confederation has granted observer status to Rugby League XIII Sports Association for the next 12 months, in an effort to gauge their level of progress, at which point an assessment will be conducted to see how they are tracking against their strategic plan and objectives.
APRLC Chairman Tagaloa Faafouina Su'a welcomes the latest development saying;
"We look forward to a positive 12 months ahead for this new member and the sport of Rugby League".
To launch this new chapter in the games development, Rugby League XIII Sports Association is playing a fully sanctioned international match, against Malta RL on Friday the 28th of October 2016 in the Chiang Mai Provence.
The curtain raiser match will showcase much of the local talent in Thailand which is well advanced in the skills of the sport.
Peter Thompson, CEO of Rugby League XIII Sports Association, is aware that solid progress takes time stating;
"The process has taken 12 months to achieve but well worth the wait"
Over the past 5 years Thailand has played matches against, Greece, Japan, Philippines, Latin Heat and competed in the Cabramatta 9's, while also running a modified domestic competition in 2014.
Players from Thailand and Australian eligible Thai’s have contributed to the ongoing development and progress of the game, with a concentrated effort this year in focusing in the Chiang Mai Provence and the regions north and east of the country.
Enquiries have been received for future matches in the Kingdom from the South Australian RL as well as the Australian Universities RL, once they have completed commitments in next year’s World Cup.
"Entering the Asian market in this manner is a wonderful start for our Rugby League Confederation. It is the gateway to many new countries in the region, where the nature of our sport is well appreciated.”
A representative regional match between Chiang Mai Royals (Lanna region representative) vs Esarn Eagles (Isaan region representative team) will be part of this double header event for the first time.