As things start to ramp up with a host of mid-year internationals underway as part of preparations for many countries going to the Rugby League World Cup later this year, some other national teams are not able to schedule matches for a variety of reasons.
One of those teams is the Jamaica Reggae Warriors.
A lot of the internationals have been scheduled to be played in Australia and New Zealand, with a few others in Europe, which is really a mountain too high for the Jamaicans, who are smack dab in the middle. Their squad is split between England, where some of their players compete in the RFL’s tiered system, and the Caribbean, where the bulk of their squad is based.
Either way, it is not an inexpensive proposition to get players from Kingston, Jamaica, to Australia or Europe, particularly as they will need to go back to the UK in just four months’ time.
So, given that conundrum, Rugby League Jamaica (RLJ) has come up with a compromise plan.
“We are working towards a one-day camp on June 18 for the UK-based players,” RLJ director of rugby and men’s senior team head coach Romeo Monteith tells Rugby League Planet.
“Our UK-based lead coach Jermaine Coleman will be overseeing this.”
“This is the best option in light of not playing a mid-season international this year. In Jamaica, our domestic lads have been in training since February and will continue to do sessions with lead coach Roy Calvert. We will all come together in October and be ready to represent the nation.”
It is unquestionably a difficult road to travel for the Jamaicans, whose national governing body has limited resources, and while it might be somewhat distracting for them to see their rivals getting in some much-needed game time ahead of RLWC2021, it by no means should be seen as the Reggae Warriors viewing it as a major setback from their perspective.
“Our expectations remain the same, we aim to be competitive and put ourselves in positions to get results from each game we play,” continues Monteith.
“From the inception of our international programs in 2009, we are used to bringing players together from the UK and Jamaica for matches, so there is nothing new, it’s the reality of being a sporting nation with a large diaspora and few resources.”
Monteith is very much upbeat about Jamaica’s prospects at RLWC2021.
“We will have the same time as other nations, the only difference is a few nations will play mid-season games and we won’t,” he adds.
“I expect us to put our best foot forward and give each game maximum effort. We are aiming to win games, that’s why we compete.”
“The other nations are looking to do the same, so we hope there will be some close games in our zone, and it will be competitive.”
This will be the Jamaicans’ first Rugby League World Cup appearance, having clinched the 11th seed for the tournament back in 2018 when they beat the USA Hawks in the deciding game of the Americas qualifying series.
The Reggae Warriors, #18 on the IRL’s world rankings, will be playing in Men’s Group C alongside #1 New Zealand, #12 Ireland and #13 Lebanon. Their opening match is against the Irish Wolfhounds on October 16 at Headingley Stadium in Leeds.