Exciting developments for American National Rugby League expansion team Atlanta Legion as it prepares to enter the AMNRL in 2012.
In a major coup, USA Eagle Phil Thiel has expressed an interest in playing with the Legion.
Thiel was the starting hooker on the USA’s national Union team at the Rugby World Cup and has been a regular starter with Life University in the USA Rugby Super League.
In other big news, Australian club Redcliffe has agreed to a player sharing arrangement with the Legion.
The Dolphins, who compete in the Queensland Cup, will be Atlanta’s sister club. As part of the Queensland Cup’s expansion program, Redcliffe will send players to the US to play in the AMNRL and in exchange will host American players in an effort to unearth new talent.
The two developments coincide with another announcement that Legion co-founder and coach Rod Seddon will be spending time with the Ipswich Jets RLC early in the New Year. Seddon, who coached the Hayward Griffins to the USA Division I national championship in 2007, has more recently been coaching the Atlanta Renegades while also serving as president of the Georgia Rugby Union.
The Brisbane Bronco's Head Coach Anthony Griffin has offered Seddon the unique opportunity to study their systems and programs where he will have the chance to rub shoulders with some of the greats of the game like assistant coach Allan Langer, Sam Thaiday, Petero Civiniceva, and Justin Hodges.
“I'll be working alongside Ipswich Rugby League Club to help make the coaching transition from Union thinking and mentality to League thinking,” Seddon told WeAreRugby. “There are different skill sets needed, different rules require different thinking.”
Seddon says the idea is to get the new club headed in the right direction from the get go.
“It was important to not just start a Rugby League club, but to dot all the I's and cross all the T's at the same time. The Atlanta Legion Rugby League Club isn't like most Rugby Union clubs. It doesn't have a committee, it's propriety owned by myself and Leo Buchieri, therefore we don't operate by majority rule.”
He believes that both codes can co-exist harmoniously.
“America offers a new way to think about Rugby League. In America, it can operate alongside Rugby Union,” added Seddon. “There's no hate v love scenario, there’s no Union v League stick in the muds to force players to play one code or the other. A player can play both in the USA on the same weekend. And let’s face it - League is far more closely aligned to American Football then Union ever is.”
Seddon says everyone involved with the new Atlanta club is keen to get stuck in.
“We're really excited to be involved in the AMNRL,” Seddon said. “David Niu [AMNRL president] has been a huge help in making this work for us, and we've been welcomed every step of the way. We're looking forward to being part of something new, something fun and something worthwhile.”
The Legion, to be captained by USA Tomahawk Salesi Tongamoa, will play in the Atlantic Conference and will likely call the Atlanta Silverbacks Stadium home.