24 Oct 2011

After nearly fifteen years in the making, the USA Tomahawks’ 40-4 win over Jamaica to qualify for the 2013 Rugby League Word Cup stands as their biggest achievement. Head coach Matt Elliott said it is well-deserved for the guys who have put so many hours working on American Rugby League to finally make the world stage, “There’s been some tough defeats and some near misses,” he said. “I think the first thing to do is to recognize what everyone did prior to this.”

As for the game itself, Elliott put the runaway second half down to discipline and perseverance. “We were just patient, we knew we had to go through our process. Tough for Jamaica, they had to play on Wednesday. We always felt that we’d have more energy. I don’t think the score was representative of how close the match was and how physical the game was.”

Long-time Tomahawk and USA captain, Jacksonville’s Apple Pope, rated the win as his most enjoyable yet, “This is the best one of them all. It’s one that gets us into the World Cup,” he joyfully noted. “We wore them down in the second half the gaps started to open up and we had the skill and the speed to get over the try line.” After spending twelve days in camp with the squad, the Florida native praised his teammates as the best he’s played with, “Both in playing ability, in strength and speed, in class and everything, it’s a top notch group here, the coaches did a great job in putting the guys together.”

As for Jamaica, Head Coach Dean Thomas attributed the loss to the poor completion rate in the second half, “At half time it was a tight game, we managed to complete 18 sets out of 20,” he noted. “We turned them around well. We came out in the second half and lost three or four players to injury straight away. That meant we only had one rotation on the bench and then we only completed fifty percent and you just can’t do that,” he said.

Rugby’s reggae boys have plans for more development in the near future. “The next step is to try and find as much resource as we can to look after the game in Jamaica,” Thomas added. “We have a number of guys who play with Jamaican heritage, they have now learned what it means to be Jamaican and to play for Jamaica and they’ll want to try and support the programme on the island and give something back.”

Matt Elliott encouraged the Jamaicans to keep persisting. “They’re probably going through the same process as the USA did. They deserve a heap of credit, the whole coaching staff and all the players,” he said.