The USA are to face Jamaica in a full international in Jacksonville, Florida in November.
The game will be played at the University of North Florida on November 14th and it is hoped it will become an annual “Atlantic Cup” competition that will see additional nations added in future years.
Jacksonville was given approval to host the game after AMNRL side Jacksonville Axemen submitted a proposal to both teams and the world governing body for the sport, who all agreed to give full sanctioning to the event as an international game.
Event coordinator Spinner Howland said: “It is important that everyone in Jacksonville understands the full meaning of this game. It is real international competition that will see the best athletes from each country take the field to do battle under their nation’s flag. The game will affect the international rankings of each country and could well have effect on future world cup qualification plans.
“Representing for your country is the biggest honour anyone can be asked and the adrenalin that flows on game day always means that meetings like this are played with incredible intensity that proves to be an amazing spectacle for the fans. There is no feeling in the world like running onto the field dressed in your nation’s colours and having thousands of screaming fans supporting you. We know that Jacksonville will show up in force for the USA team.”
ELIF representative Kevin Rudd said: “This is a fantastic and exciting inaugural event and we look forward to the Atlantic Cup developing further in the future. Thanks must go to both teams and the Jacksonville Axemen for bringing the event to fruition. A number of other Rugby League Nations will be watching it for possible inclusion in the future.”
The President of the AMNRL, David Niu added: “The American National Rugby League is committed to the development of the sport of Rugby League in the USA. The opportunity to present our national team, the USA Tomahawks in an International Fixture with Jamaica will be an ideal chance to measure the development and rising standard of our domestic competition through the performance of our elite players in this game.
“With the match being hosted at Hodges Stadium at UNF all fans of rugby league throughout the world, in America and the Florida region can once again experience the city of Jacksonville and the first class event presentation developed by Spinner Howland and the Jacksonville Axemen. We look forward to an exciting game before a large dedicated fan base that has been huge supporters of rugby league for a number of years now cheering on our friends from Jamaica, the Tomahawks and local favourites from the Axemen squad who will be representing the USA.”
The Axemen hosted a preliminary version of the Jamaican team in 2007 and scraped by with a narrow win. Since then however the island nation has become one of the best known emerging nations in the sport and with quite a few of their players now under professional contracts in the United Kingdom, the Jamaicans will be a tough assignment for the Tomahawks.
Jamaican Development Officer Romeo Montieth is excited about the contest. He said: “This Test match against the USA will be a tough assignment, however I am confident that our boys will give the Tomahawks more than enough opposition and the fans a great game. We are appealing to all Jamaicans in Florida to turn out in numbers to cheer our boys on and witness a truly great game of Rugby League.”
The team members will begin arriving into Jacksonville on Wednesday November 11 to prepare for the Saturday game.