The cross-border rivalry resumes this Saturday in Philadelphia when the USA Tomahawks play host to the Canada Wolverines in a rugby league test match. Although rugby league is a relatively young sport in North America, it may come as a surprise to learn that this rivalry goes back almost 20 years. Yeah, that’s right, so we thought it would be an interesting exercise to take a closer look at it. In total, the US and Canada have met 10 times since 1993. It would have been more had the code in Canada not gone into a 10-year period of inactivity. It re-emerged last year after the diligent efforts of the newly-formed Canada Rugby League and everyone associated with the CRL is deserving of credit for not just bringing the game back from the abyss, but also for working so hard to make the Wolverines as competitive as they are in such a short period of time.
To mark Canada’s return to international rugby league, the Colonial Cup was established in 2010. It was a one game; winner takes all deal last year, but has since been expanded into a two-game, home and away series. Saturday’s match in Philly is Game 1 of this year’s series with the return leg to be played in Toronto on September 17. From a head-to-head standpoint, the Tomahawks can probably lay claim to owning one of the longest winning streaks against an archrival in any sport. The USA is 10-0 all-time against Canada, that long Canadian hiatus notwithstanding. The Americans’ biggest winning scoreline was a 68-0 shutout in 1999, but interestingly their slimmest margin of victory was the 22-16 result in last year’s inaugural Colonial Cup game.
There is no doubt that when factoring into the mix the recent establishment of regular internationals between the US and Jamaica, in which the Tomahawks are currently 2-0, the USA is the indisputable king of the Rugby League International Federation’s Atlantic zone. As to the likelihood of Canada knocking off the US on Saturday, while it’s possible, history would suggest otherwise.
However, Canada has picked a solid team while the US is experimenting with its lineup as it endeavors to come up with the best possible team for the Rugby League World Cup Qualifiers in October and what that means is that the Wolverines have perhaps their best chance to date of registering a W against the Tomahawks. Of course that will largely depend on whether they can successfully execute a winning game plan, complete their sets and essentially punch above their weight and what all of that means is that Saturday’s game should be a humdinger.
The match will kickoff at 3pm and will be on rain or shine. Charles Martin Memorial Stadium is an artificial turf surface and one of five 'Supersites' in the Philadelphia area which was part of a multi million dollar upgrade to the areas sporting facilities. The Post Match Party will be at Paddy Whacks on 2nd and South Street. Meet the players and enjoy the post match fun with great food and drink specials all night!