Rugby League Ireland�s ambitious plans for an 18-team inter-provincial championship will be boosted by a fund-raising dinner at Huddersfield�s historic George Hotel on March 20 2004 - with Great Britain & Ireland Test star Brian Carney confirmed as the guest of honour. Rugby League Ireland (RLI), the sport�s governing body across the Irish Sea, recently announced ambitious plans to launch a dramatically expanded domestic competition in 2004 to help establish rugby league as a major sport in the country. Now RLI has teamed up with the fund-raising group 1895 International to stage a gala dinner in order to raise the necessary funds push forward this exciting new development.
Wigan Warriors winger Carney will be the keynote speaker at the event, which will double as a St Patrick�s Day celebratory dinner and a landmark promotional event for Rugby League Ireland, while a number of other high-profile guests are expected to be confirmed shortly.
�We are proud to have Brian at this function,� commented Rugby League Ireland chairman Dave Southern.
�We aim to raise funds to assist the Ireland Wolfhounds A Team to travel for the Four Nations International Tournament in Wales next June/July, and to enable the winning team in the All Ireland Summer Conference club championship to play in the UK.
�This is an exciting time for us, with our game reaching an ever-widening public. Increasing numbers of Rugby Union players are showing an interest in playing League during the summer, which augurs well for both codes. We have a product that is spectacular and entertaining, and which is grounded in a strong community ethos. We have every reason to feel confident about the future.�
Brian Carney, who was born in Cork and grew up in County Wicklow, is the first Irish-born player to don the Lions jersey since 1959. His form on the wing for Wigan Warriors RLFC and his recent sensational Test match debut against world champions Australia, in which he scored two tries, have marked him out as one of the most outstanding stars on the world stage.