Ottawa Aces
Eric Perez (second right) is confident that Cornwall RLFC can be a success, growing organically

Cornwall will have a professional rugby league team in League One from 2022 after the owners of the shelved Ottawa Aces operation opted to set up the new venture in the south west.

Cornwall Rugby League Football Club will base themselves at Penryn’s Memorial Ground.

They have full membership of the Rugby Football League, having taken on Hemel Stags’ licence with the governing body.

“It’s a rugby hotbed,” founder Eric Perez told BBC Sport.

“Cornwall offers the best of all possibilities. Most athletes play rugby there. It’s a unique area and its own region. We are the only professional sport operating in the summer down here, so we have that exclusivity.

“From Newcastle and the Cumbrian teams, all the way down to Cornwall. For the first time in 126 years, rugby league is a truly national sport.”

The division Cornwall are joining is far more diversely spread than the Championship and Super League, where most sides are based in the north of England.

There are two Welsh clubs, West Wales Raiders and North Wales, while London Skolars, Coventry Bears and Doncaster are also outside the traditional M62 belt.

Oldham, Swinton, Rochdale, Keighley and Hunslet complete the make up of the league.

RFL chair Simon Johnson said: “The RFL board have approved the club’s request to relocate as it takes the League One competition, and the sport of rugby league, into a new area, which shares many of the characteristics of the traditional rugby league heartlands in the north, and has a renowned passion for rugby.

“This is an exciting opportunity to take our great sport to a completely new audience in a beautiful part of the country, and for our clubs and supporters to embrace that.”

A Cornish team, not just by name

Creating a team from scratch is nothing new for Perez, who was the founder of the Toronto Wolfpack franchise which also started out from the bottom in the English league, and also had designs on Ottawa until the Covid-19 pandemic forced a rethink.

His plans for Cornwall are very different from the wave of big names which were brought in to the Wolfpack squad in their infancy.

“Our approach is three pillars, commercial, grassroots and the community, making Cornwall a better place,” Perez continued.

“Our ethos is Cornish first, we want the bulk of our side to be Cornish and to give Cornish players an opportunity to play professional rugby league.

“My dream is to grow the sport in an area which I believe is the sleeping giant of rugby league, to one day watch the club walk out onto the field at Old Trafford in the Grand Final, and to have Cornish players playing for England in a World Cup.”

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