By Matthew Brown, Date: 4/9/17
Over the next few weeks, we will be looking at individual nations within Latin America which have Rugby League activity or representation on the international stage. Today we will be looking at one of the participants of the Latin American Rugby League Championship…Mexico
Mexico Rugby League…When did it begin?
Although Mexico started playing regular club Rugby League competitions in 2013, there are theories that it occurred much earlier. A local Rugby League volunteer and university Lecturer in Guadalajara, (Guillermo Ruiz Buenrostro) tells of tales of British expats playing Rugby League in the Mexican Oil Fields in the 1930s, however there is no documented evidence to support this. Since 1998 various universities and colleges experimented with Rugby League via exhibition games; however it did not translate into consistent domestic activity.
Rugby League officially began in 2013 with various training camps starting up. Regular competitions and club fixtures occurred the following year in 2014 with the first inauguaral Copa México Rugby League 9s. Today, Mexico has various competitions running in the Capital (Mexico City) and the Jalisco Region (Central West region of Mexico). Six clubs play on a regular basis with various clubs coming and going, year-in year-out.
An annual State of Origin series (Copa Origenes) is played between Valle de Mexico (Greater Mexico City) and Occidente (Jalisco Region). Last year, Occidente won by a 56-0 victory over their Northern Counterparts in their first ever victory over their rivals outside beach football!
Main Individuals behind the Project
The main individuals behind the Mexican Rugby League project are;
Carlos and Ruben Munguia– Two brothers who helped start the sport in the capital, Mexico City
Guillermo Ruiz Buenrostro– University Lecturer, volunteer and main individual behind the sport starting in Guadalajara/Jalisco region.
Both groups run the game together but under two different bodies; Mexico Rugby League (Carlos and Ruben) and Jalisco Rugby League (Guillermo).
Lack of International Competition and Assistance
The main challenge for Mexican Rugby League in the past has been a lack of international opposition to play.
There was an attempt to field a Mexican side in the 2016 Philadelphia 9s in the USA, but a visa application system which was unfavourable and expensive stopped their travel plans. Although both nearby Jamaica and USA play the game, costs of travel and lack of funds for the sport have been a road block for games eventuating between Mexico and their Rugby League neighbours.
Professional help from an Unlikely Source
Recently, UK based Latin Heat coach and player Juan Jasso visited Mexico and helped give training and development sessions for the local Rugby League groups.
Juan is an American born in Texas of Native American, Spanish and Mexican descent. Having worked for the Super League club London Broncos, various Latino communities and for the Global Rugby League Academy, Juan used his professional experience to help set up;
Skills clinics for local players
Instructional Rugby League videos (In Spanish).
Player pathway and accreditation program
School and business plan for Mexico Rugby League.
Juan also helped acquire new sponsors, partnerships and a regular training field for the domestic players to use for training. Juan’s short two week endeavour to Mexico proved invaluable for the volunteers of Rugby League in Mexico and the future of the sport in the country!
A Debut South of the Border…Down Chile Way!
Mexico is looking forward to making their international debut in the Latin American Rugby League Championships in Los Angeles, Chile on November 19th. This is the first full 13-a-side Rugby League tournament in Latin America.
The national teams of Colombia, Argentina and Chile have also confirmed their attendance.
To help raise funds a sponsorship campaign (set up by the Latin Heat Rugby League) has been created to help players make the journey to Chile!
Any donation whether big or small can help make a difference for the players, staff and officials heading to the tournament.
Latin American Rugby League Championship Fund
Mexico Rugby League Facebook page;
Rugby League Jalisco Facebook Page;