This is an extended round-up of all the various news stories surrounding the great game of rugby league in the Americas. If this is your first time here we are coving everything from Argentina and Brazil to Jamaica and Honduras to The US and Canada, we will give you the TOP FIVE (5) - this week 10, stories you might have missed. So let's get to it. Here are the top stories for the week of May 19th, 2023.
Toronto BREAKS Silence:
In a long-awaited announcement, the Toronto Wolfpack has finally broken their 281-day silence to reveal their plans for the 2023 season. In a statement, they claimed "The team will be hosting the 2023 Toronto Wolfpack Canada Cup. We will be playing a minimum of 10 games this season at the "Den", Lamport Stadium. The 2023 Canada Cup will have the Wolfpack hosting rugby league teams from the United States and from Canada.
In addition, the team is hard at work negotiating one additional international match for the 2023 season.", as well as expansion in 2024. We can confirm we know of 3 teams that the Wolfpack have reached out to for the opportunity to play in Toronto yet no team has OFFICIALLY confirmed. In an effort to shed light on this development, we have extended an invitation to the Wolfpack ownership for an exclusive interview on our podcast, eagerly awaiting their response to delve deeper into their plans for the future.
Ontario Rugby League Grand Final:
The highly anticipated grand final of the shortened ORL season took place on May 7th, amidst challenging weather conditions resembling a monsoon in Ontario. In an intense and physical showdown, it was the Brantford Broncos who emerged triumphant with a resounding 20-6 victory over the Brampton Beavers, securing the ORL title. Both teams showcased immense determination and courage, leaving no stone unturned in their pursuit of glory. The Broncos, having remained undefeated throughout the season with a flawless 3-0 record, showcased their dominance and exceptional skill on the field. While the season was condensed, fans can look forward to more thrilling matches featuring the ORL, as the Delaware Black Foxes are set to face off against the Toronto Saints on June 9th.
Battle of California:
In an exhilarating inaugural installment of the Battle of California, the North Women's team emerged victorious with a 34-22 win over their South counterparts. This thrilling encounter showcased the incredible talent and determination of over 50 players, many of whom were experiencing their first-ever rugby league match. The game was fiercely contested from the start, with the North taking an early 14-0 lead. However, the South rallied back, narrowing the gap to 14-6 by the 25-minute mark. The teams traded tries, and at halftime, the score stood at 20-12 in favor of Northern California.
After oranges, the North Women struck twice in quick succession, extending their lead to 30-12 within six minutes of play. Despite some attacking opportunities, the South team was plagued by penalties and errors that prevented them from closing the gap. As the game entered the final quarter, the North maintained a commanding 34-12 lead. The South mounted a spirited comeback, scoring two more tries, but their efforts fell short as they struggled to find the try zone once again.
Coach Tiger of the North Women's team, also known for leading the east Palo Alto Lady Razorbacks, expressed his delight at witnessing the spectacular growth of the women's game. He eagerly anticipates further development and progress in the future. Ady Cooney, representing the South team, emphasized the significance of the Battle of California for women's rugby league in the United States. He stated that
"the game serves as a catalyst for the sport's development in California and beyond, encouraging more women to join and expanding the player pool for national team selection."
Cooney emphasized the importance of rivalry in driving growth plans for the West Coast and building a thriving and empowering future for rugby.
Both coaches agreed on the positive impact of rugby league in attracting female athletes. Coach Tiger highlighted the parallels between rugby league and the NFL,
"it is an attractive option for players influenced by American football. I think the women enjoy playing league more than union because of how close league is to American football."
With the Battle of California as a stepping stone, the growth of women's rugby league in the United States is poised to accelerate, fostering a vibrant and inclusive environment for the sport. This marks an exciting time for women's rugby league in America as the sport continues to gain momentum and captivate new audiences. The Battle of California exemplifies the dedication, skill, and passion of female athletes, inspiring the next generation and paving the way for further expansion and success in the sport.
Canda v. GB Police Masters :
Canada Masters have welcomed the Great Britain Police Masters to Toronto. Masters rugby league, reserved for players aged 30 and older, showcased the enduring passion and camaraderie of the sport. The event kicked off on Tuesday with an opening match against the Ontario Greybeards, followed by the main event tonight at 7:00 at Lamport Stadium. The Canada Masters Select team, comprising players from Ontario, British Columbia, and Manitoba, face off against the formidable Great Britain Police Masters. Beyond the on-field battles, the event provided an opportunity for the rugby league community to come together, celebrate, and honor the contributions of the players. It will be a memorable occasion that highlighted the rich tapestry of rugby league in Canada and the international connections forged through the sport.
Mexico Rugby League Returns
Mexico Rugby League has declared its triumphant return to the field. After a period of silence, the organization has shared its plans to resume operations in a big way. According to their statement, they are organizing a small Rugby League tournament in June with the primary objective of promoting the development and widespread adoption of the sport throughout Mexico.
The news of Mexico Rugby League's resurgence brings a sense of anticipation and delight to fans and enthusiasts in Central America. The organization's commitment to growth and its determination to provide new opportunities for athletes seeking fresh challenges and exhilarating experiences is indeed commendable.
The forthcoming tournament in June is set to serve as a platform for players to showcase their skills and passion for the game. It is an opportunity for Mexico Rugby League to reignite the flame of rugby league in the country and inspire a new generation of athletes to embrace the sport.
As the details of the tournament unfold, fans, players, and stakeholders alike are eager to learn more about the participating teams, fixtures, and the overall vision that Mexico Rugby League has for the future.
Tackle RESET! SIX AGAIN!
Jamaica's NCC has Kicked Off:
The National Club Championship (NCC) in Jamaica is currently in full swing, and we are eagerly watching to see if anyone can put an end to the Red Shark dynasty. With an impressive record of eight NCC titles, spanning from 2015 to 2019, the Red Sharks have established themselves as the dominant force in the Jamaican rugby league. However, due to the unfortunate circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the tournament was put on hold in 2020 and 2021, leaving a void in the quest for the championship.
In 2022, when the NCC returned, the Red Sharks demonstrated
their unwavering strength by securing their sixth consecutive title with a resounding victory over the Bulls. The team's exceptional performance has instilled a sense of fear and respect among their opponents, as they continue to exhibit a level of skill, strategy, and cohesion that is unmatched in the league.
This year marks the 17th edition of the National Club Championship season organized by Rugby League Jamaica (RLJ). As the tournament progresses and the third round kicks off, the anticipation and excitement among players, coaches, and fans are palpable. With the World Cup qualifiers on the horizon, the stakes have never been higher, and every match becomes an opportunity for players to showcase their talent and secure their spot in the national team.
Adrian Hall, the Vice Chairman of RLJ, believes that,
"this year's NCC will witness a surge in intensity and competition as players vie for national team selection. The prospect of representing their country in the World Cup adds an extra layer of motivation, pushing athletes to perform at their absolute best."
As the weeks unfold, spectators can expect to witness an elevation in standards, with players raising their game and delivering electrifying performances.
Furthermore, the NCC is not just about individual performances; it is a stage where intense rivalries are born. As teams face off against one another, the desire to come out on top fuels the creation of intense and heated matchups. These rivalries ignite passion and excitement among the fans, creating an atmosphere that amplifies the thrill of the game.
With each passing round, the NCC captivates audiences with its display of skill, determination, and sportsmanship. The Red Shark dynasty may be firmly in place, but as the competition progresses, the question remains: Will any team rise to the challenge and dethrone the reigning champions? As the battle for the NCC title intensifies, fans eagerly await the unfolding drama and spectacle of Jamaican rugby league.
9s Season in US and Canada -
The excitement of the rugby league 9s season is reaching its peak, with the highly anticipated Naples 9s tournament taking place this weekend in Florida. Teams from all across America are converging to battle it out for the championship title, as the absence of the reigning champions, USARL Exiles, opens up the field for a new victor to emerge. One team to watch out for is the San Diego Barracudas, who will be making their debut against an east coast team after making the long cross-country trip. The men's division is divided into two competitive pools, each consisting of four teams, while the women's bracket features four talented teams as well. For those unable to attend the event in person, the matches will be live-streamed, and you can find the link on the Copperheads' official website at copperheadsrlfc.com for more information and to catch all the thrilling action.
Looking ahead, the rugby league season in Canada is set to kick off next week with the much-anticipated RLBC 9s tournament. Whistler, known for its breathtaking beauty, will play host to this event, which will feature all six teams from the RLBC. While details about the streaming coverage of the matches are still being confirmed, we will make sure to keep you informed as soon as more information becomes available. Perhaps, they can even recruit the bear that has been known to wander onto the pitch as an honorary cameraperson for the day. Stay tuned for updates on this exciting event and get ready to witness top-notch rugby league action in the stunning surroundings of Whistler, Canada
Raven is the First Americas Player in NRLW -
In a monumental moment for Canadian rugby league, Ferris Sandboe is set to make history as the NRLW's first-ever Canadian import. The talented outside back has secured a developmental contract with the St George Illawarra Dragons, earning her a spot in the highly competitive league. In an interview with the Dragons' social pages, Sandboe expressed her excitement about joining the club, saying,
"It's been great so far. I've met so much of the staff and everything. I feel very welcomed into the club, and honestly, the view upon arrival is pretty surreal. It feels like I'm walking into a dream right now."
Sandboe's remarkable journey began when she made her Rugby League World Cup debut for the Canadian Ravens against Papua New Guinea in Leeds last November, capturing the attention of the rugby league world with her exceptional performance. Her talent and involvement in the World Cup caught the eye of Dragons NRLW head coach Jamie Soward, who was impressed by her skills and character.
"When Ferris' highlights package came up, firstly, I was intrigued about someone from Canada wanting to play rugby league," Soward said.
"The success story of her making the World Cup and her involvement in that certainly appealed to us. She's going to be really good for what we're trying to build with our culture – she's a little bit older, she's experienced life, she works on the farm, she's got good values, she trains hard."
With the addition of Maria Graf from Brazil, there are now two women from the Americas making their mark in Australia's rugby league scene. While Sandboe is the first to break into the NRLW, it's likely that others, including Graf, are not far behind. This development signifies the growing presence and potential of rugby league talent emerging from the Americas, further solidifying the sport's global reach and showcasing the diverse skill set of players from different regions. As Sandboe embarks on this exciting chapter in her career, all eyes will be on her as she blazes a trail for Canadian rugby league in the NRLW.
France Pulls Out of Hosting RLWC25 -
In a shocking announcement, France made the decision to withdraw as the host of the 2025 Rugby League World Cup. This announcement has sent ripples of disappointment and concern among rugby league expansionists worldwide. However, the repercussions of this decision extend beyond the hosting arrangements, raising crucial questions for teams in the Americas, particularly the reigning champions.
The Americas Championship, scheduled to commence in November in Kingston, Jamaica, was set to feature teams from Canada, Jamaica, the United States, and the emerging force of Brazil. Originally, the Americas were allocated two spots in the World Cup field, providing ample opportunity for teams to showcase their talents on the global stage. However, with the uncertainty surrounding the future of the tournament and the withdrawal of France as the host nation, there is now a possibility of a reduced playing field.
If a smaller World Cup field is implemented, it could mean that only one team from the Americas qualifies for the tournament. While this remains speculative and unconfirmed at this point, it raises concerns and implications for the participating teams in the region. The stakes are higher than ever as they compete for the coveted World Cup spots, and the outcome of the Americas Championship has taken on even greater significance as it could be a winner take all tournament.
As rugby league enthusiasts eagerly await further updates and clarifications regarding the World Cup from the IRL, the fate of the teams in the Americas hangs in the balance. The implications of France's withdrawal will undoubtedly shape the future of the tournament and have a significant impact on the qualifying process for teams in the region. The rugby league community can only hope for a resolution that ensures fairness and maintains the spirit of competition as the Americas contenders battle it out for their shot at on the international stage.
NRL to Vegas is a Go?! -
We are hearing that the NRL's desire to play the first round of the 2023 competition in Las Vegas is actually going to happen and could be OFFICIALLY announced in the next 2 weeks. This ambitious plan, which has been met with both excitement and concern from those of us here in the states, aims to bring in new audiences as they say but there more questions than answers right now. NRL CEO Andrew Abdo and Chairman Peter V'landys recently returned from a fact-finding mission in Las Vegas, where they toured the renowned Allegiant Stadium. Their visit was a pivotal step in assessing the feasibility and logistics of hosting an NRL round in the city that never sleeps.
While the official announcement is yet to be made, Abdo expressed confidence that the NRL is committed to making this historic event a reality. He revealed,
"We're going to put everything into making it happen, and we should know within the next couple of weeks if we can pull it off. We believe there is an opportunity to win fans on the West Coast of America, which would be a huge opportunity for us."
Astonishingly, the NRL has allegedly failed to involve or even reach out to any member of the USARL or any of the existing rugby league teams in the United States.
While NRL CEO Andrew Abdo and Chairman Peter V'landys returned from their fact-finding mission in Las Vegas, there was a conspicuous absence of communication with the USARL. The lack of transparency and collaboration with established rugby league organizations in the US raises concerns about the NRL's genuine commitment to growing the sport on American soil.
The NRL's intention to bring rugby league to Las Vegas is a bold move to tap into the city's entertainment and sports betting culture. But With Allegiant Stadium's state-of-the-art facilities and capacity to host large-scale events, it presents potential issues for showcasing the NRL matches. One is, can they sell out the 65,000-seat stadium?
As the NRL's intentions remain shrouded in secrecy, the lack of transparency and disregard for existing structures has sown seeds of doubt among supporters and stakeholders of American rugby league. The failure to involve the USARL or establish meaningful dialogue with local teams raises concerns about the NRL's true motives and its commitment to the development of the sport in the United States
Tune in next week for the latest write-up and report, and stay tuned in to all the rugby league news on our social media channels.