The American National Rugby League continues to make strides as it focuses on building up domestic programs while also planning for next year’s Rugby League World Cup.
New regulations and formats will be adopted for the 2012 season, including those that will govern coaching, import players and developmental leagues.
Stringent new guidelines for coaches are being put in place to ensure that each domestic club is coached by staff with a higher level of certification.
The new certification standards are being modeled on those which are currently being used the Australian Rugby League and the New South Wales Rugby League, although the end result will see a coaching accreditation package that will be uniquely American.
As for players being brought in from overseas to play in the AMNRL, each American club will now be required to get a clearance from the overseas club at which the player has been based before signing him. This is to ensure that the AMNRL attracts the best quality players to compete in domestic competitions as it strives to improve the standard of the US game.
As we have reported in recent times, new teams are being established right across the country as rugby league enjoys an uptick in popularity, and to that end, as many as 20 teams could be in play this season from the East Coast all the way west to Hawaii.
The Atlantic Conference is looking to solidify an eight-team competition; the Pacific Conference could have up to six clubs playing in the Hawaiian Islands, there are three new teams in the Western Conference, while another three teams are slated to start playing in the Midwest.
The AMNRL is looking at introducing developmental programs that could incorporate a series of exhibition games featuring clubs from different regions in an effort to give them exposure to competition from other parts of the country.
Another exciting prospect being considered is for the USA to send a team to the 2013 Student Rugby League World Cup in London.
The AMNRL’s front office is looking at the possibility of sending an Emerging Tomahawks side, or maybe a College All Star team to the UK.
The USA has competed at two previous SRLWCs in 1996 and 1999. The University Rugby League World Cup was first held in New Zealand in 1986 when just five teams competed. The last tournament was played in 2008 and was won by Australia.
International matches are another important part of the AMNRL’s strategy for success at the 2013 Rugby League World Cup and to date three countries have confirmed Tests against the Tomahawks in 2012 with four more on the table.
Ireland will be in Philadelphia in March, Tonga will touch down in Hawaii in May, with Japan to face the USA, also in Hawaii, in June.
Discussions are ongoing with the USA’s RLWC Group D rivals Cook Islands about a potential matchup, possibly in Hawaii, while the AMNRL is also talking with the Canada Rugby League about this year’s Colonial Cup series.
The Tomahawks are tentatively scheduled to tour France in October and the Italian Federation in Italy have expressed an interest in hosting the US this fall.
Announcements on these proposed matches are expected in due course.