Kingston set to host Americas Rugby Champs
Tournament will decide the two nations from the region to travel to 2025 World Cup in France
Jamaica’s bid to qualify for a second successive Rugby League World Cup could begin on home soil between October 25 and November 5 this year.
The Americas Championship, which will decide the two nations from the region to travel to France in 2025, will most likely take place in Kingston and could grace one of the island’s major sporting venues.
The Reggae Warriors, who contested their maiden finals in England late last year, the United States and Canada are joined by Brazil, who defeated Chile and Columbia in a round-robin South American qualifier at the end of last year.
Head coach Romeo Monteith believes the profile of the sport, still in its infancy on the island, would be raised considerably if the games were played at one of the nation’s iconic sporting venues, saying:
“Should Jamaica host the Championship, wouldn’t it be fantastic to see these calibre games at the National Stadium or Sabina Park?
“These are discussions Rugby League Jamaica will be pursuing with the relevant parties.”
The Jamaican squad, featuring six home-born players complimented by professional and semi-professionals heritage-qualified players, based in the United Kingdom (UK), failed to made a huge on-field impact on the 16-nation tournament and suffered heavy defeats in the group games against Ireland, Lebanon and 2008 World Champions New Zealand.
However, Monteith and assistants Roy Calvert and Jermaine Coleman’s flamboyant side made a huge amount of friends with their innovative style, highlighted by an unconventional yet often successful passion for short kick-offs.
Monteith, currently based in Toronto, Canada, is determined that the development of the game in Jamaica continues through to and beyond France 2025, and continued:
“We are looking at both sides of the water - to field our strongest team, including both UK-based players, from their Super League and Championship, and domestic players.
One of Jamaica’s few full-time professionals, Michael Lawrence, who played almost 300 Super League games for Huddersfield Giants before joining Championship club Bradford Bulls as captain at the end of last season, commented:
“I didn’t know most of the players from the Championship, having spent all my career in the Super League, and neither did I know the five who came over from Kingston or most of the coaching staff.
“Now I keep an eye on them and the local competition, and I’m still in touch with the coaches, constantly speaking with Jermaine and Roy, and many of the people who are pushing the game over on the Island.”
The 32-year old Yorkshireman, whose parents were born in Kingston and Hanover, continued:
“When you play rugby league for Jamaica, it’s more of a family - the moment you pull on that shirt, it is a different feeling to playing for any club.
“We probably have the smallest group of players to choose from of the nations who play the game, so we are all very close and proud of what we are doing,” Lawrence said.