Another shot in the arm for the American National Rugby League with a long-established rugby club adding a league team to its programs.
The Hawaii Harlequins will enter a team in the AMNRL’s Pacific Conference. The Harlequins have a long standing history in US and international rugby competition having hosted the famous Hawaiian Invitational tournament at Kapioloni Park along with numerous overseas tours. A number of world famous players have turned out for the Quins, such as All Black legends Michael Jones, Murray Mexted and Stu Wilson.
It’s a significant move because the Harlequins are the oldest and best networked club in the Hawaiian Islands.
“The Quins decided to enter a club for many reasons, the primary was 12 of our union registered players were already participating in Rugby League,” Harlequins president David Delozier told WeAreRugby.
“After the initial season of playing for other League clubs we saw the mutual benefits of both codes on our club as a whole. The players who played Rugby League came back to union training fitter and more aggressive. The tackling and work rate was also a lot higher in the ones who continued to play rugby during the summer vs taking an off-season.”
Delozier says that adding a Rugby League program to the mix isn’t difficult and will create few, if any, extra logistical issues.
“It’s really not much different than operating a 7's team,” he said. “Some specifically want to play only 15's, some only 7's, now some only Rugby League, however, we can all meet on the pitch for ball handling skills and the social portion of the club.
“Each player will choose what he wants to participate in. We will recruit both specifically and generally in all aspects of rugby. This latter also includes a youth team we are starting, with our existing: women's team, mens 15's, men 7's, and mens old boys (over 35). You want rugby the Quins will have all codes, all ages, and mixed genders ... a complete rugby umbrella.
And Delozier adds that there will be a sharing of players, resources and facilities.
“These teams will share players, in some cases we have individuals that will play 15's, 7's, old boys tourney in September, and now league.”
To find out more about playing Rugby League with the Harlequins please visit their website
AMNRL Hawaii is in an expansion mode in 2012 with teams from two islands, Oahu and Maui, expected to compete in this year’s Hawaii championship.
There is also a possibility of additional teams being formed on The Big Island.