By Brian Lowe Date: 22/2/18 (Photo Credit: NRL Photos)
The Rugby League Commonwealth Championship 9s will be played in the Moreton Bay suburb of Redcliffe near Brisbane Friday and Saturday and will feature competitions in three divisions – Men’s U23, Open women’s and physical disabilities.
The tournament has been set up as an exhibition sport for the 2018 Commonwealth Games to be held on the Gold Coast in April.
Of particular interest will be the women’s tournament. Six Commonwealth countries will take part in that, including the Canada Ravens.
The Canadians are in Pool B with Tonga and the Cook Islands, while Australia, Fiji and Samoa make up Pool A.
Ravens head coach Mike Castle says even though there hasn’t been much time to learn how to play the abbreviated version of the game, the players are quietly confident of putting in good performances.
“We have no doubt the both teams in our pool, Tonga and Cook Islands, will be quality teams and they have both been bolstered with some experienced Kiwi Ferns being named in their squads,” said coach Castle.
“However, we’re confident that we can continue to build after the World Cup and have some success at this tournament.”
The Ravens impressed in their international rugby league debut at last year’s World Cup in Australia by making the semifinals.
As mentioned above, the learning experience has continued for the Ravens’ squad, but according to the coach, they have picked up 9s quite quickly.
“9’s is a different game,” he says. “There’s a lot more space, and it’s a lot quicker than the 13 a-side game.
“The basic concepts are the same however, and after just a couple of sessions so far, the team are looking sharp an enjoying learning some new tactics.”
Despite the players all being brand new to the shortened version, they expect to be competitive.
Coach Castle continues that regardless of the end result, there will be some definite take aways from the tournament.
“This is another opportunity for us to raise awareness of the game in Canada, and help the game grow,” adds Castle.
“This time last year, we had no female rugby league players in Canada. Now with the success of the Ravens, we have had many more athletes get in touch wanting to try this game.”
Coach: Mike Castle