It gave me much pleasure to see the clubs of the USA Rugby League demonstrate their resilience during a year which proved difficult across many sectors of the game.
With the inclusion of three previously non-existent clubs from Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island, the tyranny of distance between matches on the east coast of the USA could have affected the consolidation of a competition in its infancy. Club resources, match officials and finances were extended to their limits but all prevailed to provide a fully completed and competitive season.
Also encouraging is the interest generated in other locations of the USA with the intention to be key stakeholders for the USARL in developing and fostering the game. Individuals in California, Washington State, Texas, Colorado, Maryland, Pennsylvania and up-State New York have expressed their desire to be a part of the expanding picture of the USARL.
Each club is to be congratulated on their efforts in developing the sport and constructing the best Rugby League competition in the USA.
I thank Vanguard for being the USARL’s supplier of club-branded footballs and Akuma for their professional supply of playing kits and other apparel.
Special congratulations are in order for:
- Jacksonville Axemen; hosting the New Zealand Police in April.
- Philadelphia Fight; completing the historic first USA club tour to England in April.
- Philadelphia Fight; hosting the first ever International 9‘s Tournament in the USA during May.
- Rhode Island Rebellion for initiating the non-profit American Youth Rugby League Association (AYRLA).
- Jacksonville Axemen again hosting the Atlantic Cup in November.
On an outstanding note, Mikhael Shammas, Director Coaching and Technical, and Alan Chmielewski, USARL Match Official, created and are co-directors of the North American Match Officials Association. NAMOA is responsible for the education and development of match officials for the USARL. Both Mikhael and Alan attended workshops in London and have been accredited as RFL Match Official Course Tutors’.
The second outstanding achievement is the creation of the American Youth Rugby League Association (AYRLA) by Lawrence Almagno, Director Club and Youth Development. AYRLA is a non-profit organization relying on volunteers and small grants to conduct and deliver RL activities and games in conjunction with the Providence After School Alliance. AYRLA’s 10 week program involves students in the critical 11-14yrs and 15-18yrs age groups. The majority of students are underprivileged and are excited to be involved in the program.
In brief, the success of the 2011 season could be measured by:
- The introduction and participation of three (3) USARL clubs not previously in existence (OneidaFC, Rhode Island Rebellion and New Jersey Turnpike Titans).
- The completion of the first International 9ʻs Tournament played in the USA.
- The introduction by South Eastern RL of three (3) minor teams in Florida.
- Completion of all scheduled matches.
- A competitive season in which no club dominated over the course of the season.
- The higher-than-usual standard of venues in which matches were conducted.
- The initiation of AYRLA to conduct school based RL programs and competitions across the USA,
- No financial liabilities.
- No incidents seeking insurance claims.
- The establishment of a well constructed website.
The future of the USARL looks positive and sustainable. There will be challenges to overcome and the USARL will continue to work with its Member Clubs and developing regions to consolidate their positions to increase participation, education and development activities.
As planning continues to develop the game in the USA we will ensure that the legacy of the USARL will be felt by all the communities within Rugby League – community clubs, supporters, sponsors and volunteers.
I would like to close by once again thanking everyone involved with Rugby League for their continued efforts, particularly at this time, to promote our great sport.
USA Rugby League LLC