The USA Tomahawks and Canada Wolverines are preparing to name their respective squads for the upcoming 2012 Colonial Cup series.
The Americans have held the Cup since its inception in 2010, although this year’s two-game series is shaping up to be the most competitive yet going into the opening conteston September 8 in Toronto.
The winner of the annual home-and-home series is determined by an aggregate points system and last year the Tomahawks did enough to get across the line despite losing the return rubber.
The US won the first game 18-2 in cyclonic conditions in Philadelphia as the match was played on a day when Hurricane Irene bore down on the eastern seaboard after previously pounding the Carolinas. However, the Canadians responded by winning 18-16 when they hosted the series decider on a dry track.
That match also marked a milestone in the history of rugby league in Canada as it was the first ever time that they had beaten the USA.
What used to be known as the Can-Am series began in 1993, but came to an end in 2000 when the 13-man code dropped off the radar north of the border. In that time, the USA had racked up an impressive eight straight series wins.
Following its 10-year hiatus, rugby league made a comeback in Canada in 2010 due to the efforts of the then newly established Canada Rugby League (CRL) and the Wolverines began their resurgence that year with the inaugural Colonial Cup match against their archrivals the USA.
They opened their comeback with a gutsy loss to the Tomahawks in September 2010 in Kingston, Ontario and then fell to the Reggae Warriors of Jamaica and the USA in the Atlantic Cup series in November of that year. Since then though, Canada has been steadily improving.
In the summer of 2011, the Canadians finally got off the schnide by posting their first ever victory in international rugby league when they downed Jamaica, and since that day, the Wolverines have gone 4-2 in Test matches. All four of those wins have come at home.
So far this year the Wolverines have topped Jamaica and Lebanon and they will be looking to keep their home win streak alive when they host the Tomahawks in Game 1 of this year’s Colonial Cup series.
The USA, on the other hand, is 1-1 so far this year. The Tomahawks took care ofbusiness against the Ireland Wolfhounds in Philly in March, but then lost to Tonga in Honolulu in May in a game that had some historical significance. It was the first ever international match in any football code to be played in Hawaii.
Overall the USA enjoys a commanding 11-1 all-time win-loss record againstCanada dating back to that first Can-Am fixture in 1993, as well as 10 straight cross-border series wins, but that will have little bearing on proceedings on September 8. Indeed, Canada will go into the match having emerged victorious the last time these two met a year ago in Toronto.
Most of the players likely to be named on both rosters for Game 1 are coming off their respective domestic championships and both the American National Rugby League and CRL are expected to select domestic-based squads.
Colonial Cup results:
Canada 18-16 USA (9/17/11)
USA 18-2 Canada (8/27/11)
USA 22-16 Canada (9/19/10)