Rugby league will experience the greatest international expansion in the game's history when an Emerging Nations World Championship is held in 2018 to be followed by a Nines World Cup just 12 months later.
The meeting of the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) on Wednesday ratified a World Championship for emerging nations such as Canada, Niue, Hungary, Hong Kong, Thailand and Vanuatu which will be played in western Sydney centres such as Windsor, St Marys and Cabramatta in November 2018.
The RLIF board awarded a grant of $100,000 to the organisation of the Rugby League Emerging Nations World Championship that will feature Tier Two and Tier Three nations from around the world where the sport is developing.
"The 2018 Emerging Nations World Championship will feature more global teams than any previous rugby league competition," RLIF Chairman Nigel Wood said.
"It will put the spotlight on the fact that rugby league is played in more than 60 countries and give recognition to the many volunteer players and officials around the globe who do great things for this sport.
"One of the Board's objectives in awarding the grant was to measure the event's success by creating a legacy of participants returning to their nation to spread the interest and growth in Rugby League.
"The game's popularity is reflective of its ability to serve as a vehicle for positive life changes, and that will be demonstrated by the stories of players from many backgrounds participating in the Emerging Nations World Championship.
"I'm sure there will be rags to riches tales and, undoubtedly many players who dream of a professional contract but, regardless, this event will be something special within itself."
Confirmed nations competing in the event are Canada, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Latvia, Malta, Niue, Philippines, Thailand and Vanuatu with several additions to follow in the coming months.
The RLIF Board also agreed that in 2019 the November tours by England to Australia and New Zealand should be complemented by an RLIF Nines World Cup.
Expressions of interest to host the RLIF Nines World Cup have been received and a full report will be made to the next RLIF Board meeting on May 9.
Following an evaluation of the 2019 RLIF Nines World Cup the Board will review whether the 2023 RLIF Global Event should be a Nines World Cup or a 13 a side event.
This article first appeared on NRL.COM