JUST DO IT!
Memorial Day Weekend in America is almost upon us, and those familiar with Rugby League in the USA will know that means a new domestic season is about to kickoff. 2012 will be AMNRL Season XV, a wonderful accomplishment given the competing sporting forces in a nation jammed packed with options for athletes, and the busy annual rugby calendar comprising rugby union, rugby sevens, and rugby league.
The 2012 AMNRL domestic competitions will extend beyond the traditional heartlands of the northeast corridor. For many years, teams emerged from Pennsylvania, New York, and Connecticut. The competitions birthplace in the early 1990's in Philadelphia has now expanded to regions nationally, and the interest in rugby league is longer focused solely on clubs and players on the east coast. Six strong clubs will make up the Atlantic Conference, with the 2011 Cup Champions the New York Knights expected to face serious challenges to defend their title with the recent announcements of player recruitments at various clubs and the potential North American Club Challenge between the AMNRL club champion and the Canada RL club champion at season's end is certain to bring out the best in every club. Checkout the season schedule here
Dedicated efforts are in place, along with administrative support and active player bases in a number of regions nationally:-
AMNRL MIDWEST - Mike Featherstone, based in Chicago has been working tirelessly in the Midwest to promote and develop rugby league through exhibition sevens games, collegiate clinics, and showcasing the Stockyarders at War at the Shore and Grand Final events. He has managed a schedule of events for developing teams in the region that will run through June and July this year. Contact Mike to learn more about the plans in the midwest here
AMNRL WEST - Col Manners is heading up the charge out west along with Zane Hirtzel in California, and George Tupou in Utah to bring the game to the vast number of athletes in the west and southwest who want to play rugby league. Former USA Rugby Union international Vaha Esikia is also working hard to develop rugby league in Las Vegas via his Las Vegas Rugby Academy. The LV Warriors will host the Coogee Dolphins from Australia later in the year. The Utah Avalanche have already played a scrimmage against the Logan Titans in April as plans develop for a mini conference this year to bring the regional teams together. An announcement will be made soon about the clubs and league schedule for 2012. Contact Col Manners for more information here
AMNRL PACIFIC - Sean Strickland has a core group of clubs in Oahu, Hawaii gearing up for a new season in the Pacific. Following on from the success of the 'Ohana Cup in the region, Sean will be assembling a team of administrators to coordinate the club competition in partnership with local rugby union clubs that will form the basis of the domestic program that will also include a series of internationals featuring the USA Tomahawks and Hawaiian Allstars Representative team. Plans are developing for a tour of Hawaii by a Maori Team from NZ, and an Australian Indigenous Squad this year. Contact Sean for more information here
AMNRL AMERIKA SAMOA - USA Tomahwks international Keiki Misipeka is launching rugby league in American Samoa in assocation with the AMNRL and as endorsed by the Rugby League International Federation. As American Nationals, athletes in American Samoa qualify to represent the USA in all sports. A number of high profile foreign rugby professionals with American Samoan heritage have already registered with the AMNRL to be eligible for the USA Tomahawks, and the talented athlete base in the region bodes well for a structured plan to support the development of rugby league locally in schools along with a domestic club competition. Contact Keiki for more information here
So the stage is set for signifcant growth of the sport of rugby league in many areas of America. As the programs grow locally, so will the plan to bring these regions together annually for a national championship series featuring the best players and teams in the country.
The 2012 AMNRL schedule will also feature further internationals to follow on from the Donnybrook and 'Ohana Cups:-
- USA 'A' v Canada 'A' at Lamport Stadium, Toronto as a curtain raiser to Canada v Jamaica on July 21 (announcement coming!)
- USA v Canada Colonial Cup at Lamport Stadium, Toronto on September 8
- USA v Canada Colonial Cup in Philadelphia, on September 22
- USA v Melbourne Storm at TBA on October 20
We look forward to all our fans, old and new, joining us for another exciting seaon of domestic rugby league in the USA!