Following the success of Jamaica in the latest version of the Americas Championship which was held in Florida in November and which also served to qualify the Reggae Boys for RLWC2021, there is a feeling of optimism and growth across both North and South America.
Canada Rugby League launched its 2019 season at Burnaby Lake in British Columbia where the Vancouver Select XIII defeated the visiting Edmonton Elks from Alberta, (https://youtu.be/VDvcDEP3ZD0)
The USA Rugby League has recently announced that the 2019 competition will feature a new club, the Lakeland Renegades based near Tampa, Florida will join the Southern Conference. In a revamped competition there will be a Northern Conference and Southern Conference. Each will play a regular season and play offs before the two Conference winners meet in the Grand Final.
Jamaica Rugby League has certainly benefitted from their recent success in qualifying for RLWC2021. They received great support from the Sports Minister, Olivia Grange, who said
“These have been such wonderful displays by Jamaica in a sport in which we have not been traditionally strong,”
South America are just at the start of their development journey having received great support from the Latin Heat organisation and many passionate and driven volunteers in the region.
There is already a great deal of playing activity and even more is planned for 2019. In early February A combined Antofagasta Rugby League team has gone down to the Argentinian National Representative team, Seleccionado Argentino de Rugby League, 82 – 6 in last weekend’s friendly held in Buenos Aires.
The Antofagasta side, which was made up of players from the Federación de Rugby League Futbol 13 Chile competition in Northern Chile, ventured on the 5,000km round trip last weekend to give the Argentinian side their first home fixture since 2016.
The Seleccionado Argentino de Rugby League team was made up of the best players from the Confederación Argentina de Rugby League domestic competitions.
Chile as an affiliate member is currently promoting domestic activity through senior men’s club activity and introducing the game to females and youth through clinics.
Plans are being put in place for an America’s 9s Championship in May and a combined Latino team is expected to face off against Canada, Jamaica and USA.
The 2020 America’s Rugby League Championship, supported by the RLIF, will feature a South American team in a 4 team tournament.
These are exciting times for the sport in South America and Romeo Monteith, the Regional Development Manager recognises the potential in South America saying:
“South American countries continue to present an exciting opportunity for the expansion of rugby league in the Americas. There is a fair bit of activity on the ground in Brazil, Argentina and Chile amongst others. If they continue to work hard, we are confident that they all will become successful and viable NGBs.”