The British National Lottery has agreed to become an official partner of the English Rugby Football League (RFL) and Women’s and Girls’ Rugby League.
Under the arrangement, National Lottery branding will feature across the sport’s premier men’s and women’s fixtures in England, while National Lottery players will have the chance to win a range of rugby league prizes such as tickets and VIP experiences.
The National Lottery will also serve as title partner for the England Women Rugby League Mid-Season International with Wales on 25 June.
Nigel Railton, chief executive of National Lottery operator Camelot, added: “Supporting sports has always been part of the mission of the National Lottery and this inventive partnership will undoubtedly make a difference.
“The loss of spectators and cancellation of events has had such an impact, so I am proud that National Lottery players are able to support Rugby League after a difficult year.”
Almost the entire Women’s Rugby League 2020 season was lost to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, meaning the majority of women and girls have not played rugby since autumn 2019.
“The growth of girls’ and women’s Rugby League at all levels has been wonderful, which made the impact of over a year of not playing so hard for the players, coaches, volunteers and clubs,” RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer said.
“But we bounce back with this new commercial partnership and with the support of the National Lottery, and we look forward to kicking off our vibrant domestic competitions, followed by a mid-season International, and the excitement of a home World Cup this autumn.
Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston also welcomed the deal: “This announcement is great news for Women’s and Girls’ Rugby League. As we look ahead to the start of the 2021 professional season, this funding from the National Lottery will provide the sport with certainty as we work towards getting crowds back at matches as soon as possible.”
The National Lottery has lent its support to a number of organisations to help them through the pandemic, including striking commercial partnerships with Wheelchair Tennis, Rugby Union Sevens and non-league football across the four British nations.
In addition, more than £150m (€174/$207m) of National Lottery funding has been distributed to grassroots sports organisations across Britain to support recovery efforts.
Last week, National Lottery operator Camelot also announced a new partnership with Team GB, Great Britain’s Olympic team, and the ParalympicsGB squad.