Jamaica are one of two nations to make their debut at the men’s Rugby League World Cup this year.
The Reggae Warriors became the first Caribbean nation to qualify for the event after beating both Canada and the United States.
Despite kicking off their group campaign with a 48-2 defeat against Ireland, the team’s operational director and rugby royalty Jason Robinson was left “massively proud”.
The 48-year-old believes Jamaica’s presence in the tournament is a ‘miracle’.
He told Love Rugby League: “When you know the story and know the journey that people have been on, you know how tough that’s been.
“When you look at the facts, most of the players aren’t full time. You’re always going to have challenges there.
“But the fact Jamaica have got to a World Cup is in itself a miracle. I think the World Cup is certainly better for it.
“Jamaica is normally known for track and field, Usain Bolt, reggae – it’s not known for rugby league. The fact that Romeo Monteith set up a team just over 18 years ago, stood on a field with a bag and some balls, you realise just how big that task has been. To be in this position now where Jamaica is represented is massive.
“Yes, the score was a big scoreline. But I don’t truly believe the scoreline reflected the game. I don’t think Jamaica conceded at any point, it was just that Ireland were seen as a bit too powerful for them.
“There’s a lot of players there that have represented their country and have made history. I’m looking forward to keep building so that other Jamaicans have the opportunity to do the same thing.
“When you look at it from a score point of view, yes it was a massive defeat. But when you look at the full picture, you’ll see it was actually a great achievement.”
A special partnership
Jamaica will now turn their attention to one of the tournament favourites, New Zealand. The two sides will square-off on Saturday at the MKM Stadium in Hull.
Jason Robinson was speaking in association with Farah menswear, the off-field clothing partner of the Jamaican rugby league World Cup team.
“It’s been a real pleasure because when you work with a team like Jamaica – Jamaica for a small nation has made a huge impact all over the world.
“I think the relationship between Jamaica and Farah goes back to the 70s. I can remember wearing my brother’s hand-me-down Farah pants. I always remember growing up and if somebody had Farah on, it was just like, the best, it was the coolest thing.
“It’s great for us. The partnership – there’s a lot of history there between Farah and Jamaica. The fact that Farah have invested and partnered with Jamaica, it’s great.
“It’s great to see the boys in all the Farah gear. For them as players it’s great when companies like Farah get involved in the team.
“You don’t know how much it means to the players. The fact a big company with history in Jamaica is sponsoring the players and backing the players means a lot to them and to the whole management system.
“We’re really grateful for Farah for support. It’s so easy now for companies to just go towards the big teams and just support the big teams. For us, having somebody like Farah on board makes really a big difference.”
Farah menswear has been entwined with Jamaican culture since the 1970s and has continued that tradition, as the official off-field clothing partner for the Jamaican Rugby League World Cup team.