After nearly fifteen years in the making, the USA Tomahawks’ 40-4 win over Jamaica to qualify for the 2013 Rugby League Word Cup stands as their biggest achievement to date.
Head coach Matt Elliott said it is a well-deserved achievement for the guys who have put so many hours working on American Rugby League to finally make the world stage, “There’s been some tough defeats and some near misses,” he said. “I think the first thing to do is to recognize what everyone did prior to this.” As for the game itself, Elliot put the runaway second half down to discipline and perseverance. “We were just patient, we knew we had to go through our process. Tough for Jamaica, they had to play on Wednesday. We always felt that we’d have more energy… I don’t think the score was representative of how close the match was and how physical the game was,” Elliot said.
Long-time Tomahawk and USA captain, Apple Pope, rated the win as his most enjoyable yet, “This is the best one of them all. It’s one that gets us into the World Cup in 2013 so this is the best one of all of them,” he said. “We wore them down in the second half the gaps started to open up and we had the skill and the speed to get over the tryline.”
After spending twelve days in camp with the squad, the Florida native speaks his teammates praises, saying they are the best he’s played with, “Both in playing ability, in strength and speed, in class and everything, it’s a top notch group here, the coaches did a great job in putting the guys together.”
As for Jamaica, commiserations for coming so close. Coach Dean Thomas attributed the loss to the poor completion rate in the second half, “At half time it was a tight game… we managed to complete 18 sets out of 20. “We turned them around well. We came out in the second half and we lost three or four players to injury straight away. That meant we only had one rotation on the bench and then we only completed fifty percent in the second half and you just can’t do that,” he said.
Jamaica now have a domestic competition being played on the island and have plans for more development in the near future. “The next step to improve now is to try and find as much resource as we can to look after the game in Jamaica,” Thomas added. “We have a number of guys who play with Jamaican heritage… I think the guys with heritage have now learned what it means to be Jamaican and to play for Jamaica and they’ll want to try and support the program on the island and give something back to the heritage.”
Matt Elliott encouraged the Jamaicans to keep developing the game in their part of the world and to keep persisting. “They’re probably going through the same process as the US did. They deserve a heap of credit, the whole coaching staff and all the players,” he said.
The Tomahawks now have a little time to celebrate the accomplishment before regrouping and sketching out plans for England and Wales in 2013.