WRL Canada v USA

The US Association of Rugby League Inc. (USARL Inc.) has dismissed criticism of its coaching and management staff appointments for the women’s national team.

Adrian ‘Ady’ Cooney has been named as head coach. He previously coached the L-A Mongrel when they were part of the California Rugby League.

Ben Calverley has been named as the assistant coach. He coaches the San Diego Barracudas club. And Jeanna Beard has been selected as the team’s operational manager.

The appointments were announced by USARL Inc.’s women’s committee and coaching director Peter Illfield.

However, the national governing body’s appointments have been labelled as being political in nature by former CEO of the previous US Women’s Rugby League (USWRL) Garen Casey. He says he had recommended the same three people for the positions before the USWRL was replaced by the current NGB, which he says has copied his recommendations.

“It’s great to see that Ady and Ben have kept their positions. I also stated that Jeanna Beard was the best choice for GM, and this was all done prior to the raid,” Casey told Rugby League Planet.

“So, while I’m glad all of what we did and planned is still in place, it further clarifies the politics in their action.

“The women’s game will grow as long as they don’t listen to the current NGB board. Let’s hope the eight-year demise will end with a whole new board.”

The ‘raid’ that Casey makes reference to relates to a change in governing bodies which happened earlier this year. The USWRL, which was originally endorsed by USARL Inc., was set up in 2019 and had been running the women’s national program until this past May when USARL Inc. replaced it.

At the time, USARL Inc. said it was formalizing the administration for the women’s domestic competition and international commitments leading into the Americas Championship in 2023 and #RLWC2025.

Director Illfield is dismissive of Casey’s criticism.

“USARL Inc. have a women’s committee that make decisions and report to the board,” he told RLP.

“Applications for coaching and administration positions were called for and considered by the women’s committee, which were discussed with and presented to the board.

“Several applicants for coaching and administration staff were considered. The board is very pleased with the decisions the women’s committee have made.”

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Brian Lowe
Brian is a strong and effective communicator with more than 30 years’ experience in broadcast and electronic media. He has been writing for Rugby League Planet since 2012 and is frequently the first reporter to break news stories about the sport. He has been our North American correspondent reporting on news in the US, Canada and Jamaica covering everything from league standings to strategy analysis to breaking news on key trades to editorials and colourful features on athletes. He is now writing about rugby league on a broader scale to cover developments around the globe. An accomplished storyteller, Brian started his career in Australian radio, before moving to the United States. He is an experienced podcast host and producer and is also a successful TV commentator having done play-by-play and analysis for ESPN, FOX Sports and the Rugby League European Federation (RLEF) among others.