The Jacksonville Axemen are excited to announce they have been awarded the 2014 National Championship Game for USA Rugby League. The Axemen submitted a bid to host the game at the University of North Florida (UNF), and found out today that their bid had been successful.
The Axemen have won two National Championships and played in two others, having had to travel to New York City, Boston and twice to Philadelphia. They are excited to not only host the high profile event, but welcome the pressure that will ultimately come with the chance to hoist the trophy in front of their home crowd.
The game will be held at the UNF Practice Soccer Fields that are about to undergo some incredible improvements. “With college sports starting in late August, access to Hodges Stadium is always a challenge”, said Axemen Co-owner Drew Slover. “We fully support UNFs dedication to their athletes, and we are grateful to have access to the Stadium through the summer months. The move across to the new venue at the end of this season is exciting and we are honored to be able to host such a highlight event as part of the opening for the upgraded facilities.”
The University of North Florida is also excited at the announcement. “We at UNF are thrilled to be the host site for the National Championship Game and the timing could not have been more perfect”, states Everett J. Malcolm , Associate Vice President for Student Affairs. “As a result in the tremendous growth in our Club Sports Program and Intramural Program, we at UNF are in the process of making additional enhancement to our outdoor facility. Those enhancements will include seating for 1,500 that will give our spectators an upfront view of all of the action, an outdoor sound system, and a new scoreboard.” The Axemen are also securing additional seating to be able to accommodate 3000 seated fans for the game.
Not only do the Axemen have the best fan attendance across all teams in the USA, they have hosted some of the largest International Rugby League events held in the country. Co-owner Spinner Howland hopes the event will again show Jacksonville is the perfect place for high profile events, and hopes to bring an economic impact to the city. “We will start international awareness this week. Just like we did for the 2008 Australia Day Challenge, the 2009 Rhinos Stampede to Florida and the three Rugby League Atlantic Cups, we will do all we can to attract Rugby Fans from across the country and around the world.” Howland of course sees the impact it can have on the local team as well. “We know the pressure will come for the Axemen to make the big game, and also aware of the pressure to make the event bigger and better than the cities who have hosted it before. If that is the burden of success then we will take a double helping anytime.”
USA Rugby League Chairman, Peter Illfield said, ““It is with pleasure and excitement that the USARL Board of Directors have assigned the USARL’s 2014 National Championship Final to the Southeastern Rugby League LLC (SERL), better known as the Jacksonville Axemen.
It’s the first time the Championship Final has been held in Jacksonville, Florida, in this 4th year of the USARL’s national competition. The Axemen have been the benchmark for achievement and growth in American Rugby League, and on the back of their first USARL title in 2012, I am more than confident they will relish in their first hosting of a our prestigious National Championship.
They have excellent experience in holding high profile events including international teams from Jamaica, UK & Australia. The best yet being the pre-seaon fixture between the UK’s Super League club Leeds Rhinos & Australia’s NRL club South Sydney Rabbitohs.
Congratulations and good luck go to co-founders Drew Slover and Daryl ‘Spinner’ Howland and their team. In a year that has seen SERL expand Rugby League in the south-west with three new clubs, the National Championship will be a ‘cake’ of delight; and the ‘icing’ for that cake will come should the Axemen successfully play themselves into the final.”
The Axemen will draw on their past event experience to attract sponsors and deliver a quality experience for teams and spectators, and they have started work on a plan to maximize every facet of impact from the high profile event. Howland said this event is much bigger than the Axemen whether they make the title game or not. “As much as our fans love our team, this event is not about the Axemen and the focus will be for the entire USA Rugby League and the growth of the sport in the USA. This event is a great opportunity to increase awareness locally, nationally and internationally, and that means two objectives. Firstly we want to ensure the big Rugby League nations around the world see the USA Rugby League is doing a great job developing the sport here in the United States. Secondly we want to give every fan, media member, sponsor, and all the heads of global Rugby League organizations, a great reason to come to Jacksonville and Florida. What better reason could there be than combining late summer weather in Florida with the USA National Championship Game in the sport you love.”
The National Championship Game details:
- Saturday August 23rd
- Gates Open at will be held at the University of North Florida Practice Fields that are located adjacent to Hodges Stadium
- General admission tickets will be $8 and pre-sales options will be available soon
For instant information fans and supporters can also join the Facebook and Twitter Accounts for USA Rugby League, and The Jacksonville Axemen.