By Brian Lowe, Date: 2/4/17
The dates have been set for this year’s Rugby League Americas Championship and for the first time, all three countries involved in the series will host a match.
The 2017 championship series kicks off in Jacksonville, Florida, on July 22 with the USA Hawks at home to Jamaica.
The second game is set to be played in Jamaica when the Reggae Warriors host Canada on August 26, before the series wraps up in Toronto on September 16 with the Wolverines to face the US.
There have been some late tweaks to the schedule to ensure it fits in with the international plans of all three countries.
“Canada didn’t want to be playing internationals before we have Provincial teams play each other and have players earn their rights to be selected in the national team,” said Canada Rugby League chief Paul O’Keefe.
At this stage, British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario are likely to face off against each other to give selectors a chance to cast an eye over potential Test caliber players.
The final format for those matches has yet to be determined, but it’s expected that BC will play both Alberta and Ontario. A decision will be made on whether Ontario and Alberta will also play each other.
In a departure from what has been the norm, this year’s Americas Championship sees Jamaica being given a home game against one of their North American rivals for the very first time since they began playing each other in 2009.
In that year, the-then USA Tomahawks welcomed the Jamaicans to north Florida to contest what was the Atlantic Cup. For the record, the home team got on top late in the piece to post a 37-22 victory in the inaugural game between the two countries.
The following year, Canada made its return to international Rugby League after a 10-year hiatus in the expanded Atlantic Cup.
The USA Hawks go into the 2017 series as the defending champions having beaten both Jamaica and Canada in last year’s championship.
The September game in Toronto will also double as a Colonial Cup match.
Americas Championship Schedule:
USA v Jamaica – Jacksonville (July 22, 2017)
Jamaica v Canada – Jamaica (August 26, 2017)
Canada v USA – Toronto (September 16, 2017)