January 13, 2011 (NEW YORK, NEW YORK) – Press Release
The newly formed USA Rugby League (www.usarugbyleague.com) named Peter Illfield as its first chairman. Mr. Illfield, of Maitland, NSW, Australia, is a veteran of Rugby League coaching, youth development and administration, most notably with the WARL and Western Reds. Playing Rugby League from a very young age until retiring at 29, Peter has spent several decades as a well-respected coach and coach educator who has developed elite youth squads while also professional sports administrator.
“I would like to thank the USARL Board for selecting me to serve as the inaugural Chairman of the League. While it is true that we will face stark challenges in the months and years ahead, it is reassuring to know that the USARL will do so as a collective. It is my job to advance the game in America through the development of our organization and I am excited to serve as its ambassador, both internationally and right here in America. We have a strong, forward-looking plan and able individuals to help me in its implementation. It is really an exciting time for League in the US.”
Peter’s senior football career began with the Maitland “Pumpkin Pickers” and he played with the NSW Hunter Valley Group 21 competition Premiers and Scone Thoroughbreds. Coached by former internationals Terry Pannowitz, Don ‘Bandy’ Adams, Gary Sullivan and St George centre and Australian NRL referees boss, Robert Finch, Peter gleaned considerable knowledge from Rugby League greats. Peter commenced coaching elite youth Newcastle, NSW, and carried on in Perth, Western Australia, where he became Coaching & Development Manager and Operations Manager with the Western Australian Rugby League, as part of the established of the Western Reds RLFC.
Peter is a Level III High Performance Coach and has been a coaching staff member of the Australian Institute of Sport, Rugby League National Youth Program. During his 7 years (1988 – 1995) with the WARL and Western Reds, Peter’s role included overseeing junior and elite player development, coaching, coach and referee education, convener of national high school tournaments and propagation of the game within every mainland state of Australia. Some of his best achievements came from Newcastle and Perth where he developed elite teenage players who went on to play in the NRL and for Australia including former Kangaroo greats, Paul ‘Chief’ Harrigan and Rodney Howe, along with former USA Tomahawks Captain, Newcastle, Nth Queensland, Parramatta and Gold Coast Titans stalwart, Matty Petersen.
“The developmental approach for the USARL will be several-pronged. Not only we seek to improve the competition and consolidate a strong group of teams in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, but we will also look to partner with and support the Axemen in their colonization of the Southeast. To support these efforts, securing regional and national sponsors and international development funds will be instrumental. Additionally, we will look to increase awareness of the game in the US in two important ways: through an increased mass media presence and through youth development, with the latter constituting a necessary component to our vision for the long-term health of the game.”
Peter is also the Chairman of the Philadelphia Fight. He lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with his wife Janan.