The development of rugby league across the Atlantic has for a long time been led by Australian pioneers such as David Niu. Recent developments including the AMNRL’s growing international programme, the expansion into the western states and the interest of stars such as Russell Crowe all indicate that the sport is on the verge of a major breakthrough.
Former AMNRL members:
- Boston 13s,
- D.C. Slayers,
- Fairfax (VA) Eagles,
- Jacksonville Axemen,
- New Haven Warriors,
- Philadelphia Fight,
- Pittsburgh Vipers (Sledgehammers)
Plus two expansion clubs:
- New Jersey Knights
- Kodiak Rugby (New York City).
In January 2011 seven AMRNL teams announced that they were leaving the AMNRL to join-up with two expansion teams to form a new national semi-professional competition. Playing an eight game regular season, with playoffs and a Grand Final during the June-August window the league hopes to attract rugby players of both codes to compete at a high level.
Whether this league blossoms to become the jewel in the crown of USA rugby is still debatable. As is the damage that a spiteful rift with the AMNRL may yet wreak upon the players and volunteers that drive the development of the game.
But it is in grass roots, youth development, that the game must make real strides. The teams in the new competition appear committed to providing development plans for their region and if implemented successfully the sport will at last have a solid foundation in a country for which this speedy, violent and thrilling game may have been designed.
The new competition is slated for a May start, with a Grand Final scheduled in August. League13 will cover the league all the way as it goes from drawing-board to stadia across the USA.