By Matthew Brown, Date:8/11/14
For much of Rugby League’s existence in the USA in recent years, most of the activity has been situated on the East Coast. Several cities such as New York, Boston, Jacksonville, Washington D.C, Baltimore and Philadelphia are where Rugby League is established. More recently, Atlanta, Tampa Bay and De Land are a few more locations which has recently been established. Rugby League is attempting to make its mark thanks to an organisation known as The Great Plains Rugby League.
I got in contact with one of the founders of the group, Brad Fuhrmann. Brad is originally from Narre Warren in Victoria, Australia and moved to Iowa, USA in 2011. Since then he has tried to kick start a stable Rugby League competition in the area. So far various 7 and 9 a side games have occurred. Since the inception of the concept, the GPRL has contacts in Iowa City, Chicago and St Louis and have had around 40 players become involved with the concept since its inception. Currently there are 3 teams set up and they have encouraged 2 colleges to give Rugby League a go.
With any new sport starting in a new area there are naturally going to be hurdles to overcome. Consistent numbers and shaking off the stereotypes that Americans have of “Union” has made it difficult at times. Brad and his fellow Great Plains pioneers however have not given up hope and continue to bring Rugby League to the area.
Early in 2014, the group affiliated themselves with the USARL and became a development conference for the Midwest. With the USARL now officially recognised by the RLIF and RLEF as the sole governing body in the United States, this will help open up fantastic opportunities for support. Eventually it is hoped that they will become fully affiliated within the USARL structure and have 8 teams involved playing Rugby League in the Great Plains of America!