An American player has written himself in rugby league folklore with a journey of biblical proportions to complete in the United States’ triumphant campaign at the America’s Nines last weekend.
Forward Kyle Denham, 27, caught 10 buses on a 4652-mile (7487 km) return overland trip from Salt Lake City to Toronto for the inaugural Americas Nines at Lamport Stadium, which the Hawks won by beating Canada 20-8 in the final.
The journey took him almost four day in each direction.
He described odyssey to the United States Rugby League website, telling how he sat next to “a chain smoking cowboy with a face tattoo” on one leg and how team-mates were sickened by the way he smelled when he arrived.
“Honestly the honour of representing one’s country is worth a lot of sacrifices,” he told the site.. “Sitting on a bus for a few days seems fair.
“I have never continuously travelled that long or smelled so incredibly horrible. Trystan Sylk from the (Philadelphia) Fight was crammed into the elevator next to me. He confirmed I did indeed smell terrible.
“I think I’ll have to wash my bus clothes several more times than I ever have any rugby kit!
“We all celebrated in good fashion. The Canadians and Toronto Wolfpack were gracious hosts. And since my bus didn’t leave until late the next day so I took a walking tour of Toronto to the bus stop.”
Denham faced the long journey after relocating to Utah during the off-season. He says he never considered just turning down the call-up of coach Sean Rutgerson.
In the remaining men’s matches of Saturday, Canada beat Latin Heat 28-0, the US beat Latin Heat 30-4 and in the third place play-off, Jamaica outpointed Latin Heat 16-10.
In women’s competition, Canada beat an Ontario selection 28-9, Ontario defeated Jamaica 24-4 and in the final, Canada got up over Jamaica 26-0.
Officials are considering holding the event next year – it was due to be staged only every two – due to the success of this year’s tournament. All Toronto Wolfpack season ticket holders were granted free entry and the Canada Rugby League was pleasantly surprised with the number of additional paying spectators.
More than 7000 people watched the live stream on the new Americas Rugby League Facebook page.