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December 27, 2012
Star Sport


 

Rugby boom - JRL officer expects big strides for sport in 2013
Leighton Levy, Star Writer


Norman Manley High's André McFarlane (centre) is tackled by José Marti Technical's Everton Richards (left) and Richards' teammate (right). The sport of rugby has increased in popularity, over the last few years. - Anthony Minott

With international matches against Trinidad, Canada and Norway on their agenda and full membership of their international federations also on the cards, the Jamaica Rugby League (JRL) is planning on 2013 being their best year yet.

After eight seasons the JRL oversees one of the fastest growing sports in Jamaica. There are currently 24 teams in eight high schools in Under-14, Under-16 and Under-19 divisions. There is also a growing inter-collegiate league that is set to grow even further in 2013 as at least one community college expressing interesting in joining the league, while others are being targeted by the JRL. There is also a six-team amateur league that continues to attract new fans.

Romeo Monteith, the league's development officer, who for the last eight years has worked tirelessly overseeing the sport's growth, believes some of things on his agenda will help the sport grow even faster come next year.

full membership

"The major thing we want to achieve is full membership of the European Federation of Rugby League and the International Federation," Monteith revealed.

"This will further strengthen our position as it will allow for further financial and technical assistance."

The league development officer explained that full members of these federations qualify for grants that will allow the JRL to expand its administrative capabilities and technical prowess, which will aid with growing the sport at the grassroots level and the JRL's international ambitions. Jamaica's Reggae Warriors are ranked 22nd in the world and Monteith wants the team to break into the world top 20 sometime next season.

The JRL will apply for full membership in May and expect to have news on their new status by August next year.

Monteith doesn't forsee any problems as Jamaica currently meets the criteria for countries seeking full membership of the international federations. There are more than 500 persons playing the sport, there are more than 12 domestic teams, a junior programme and an active national team.

"We are also recognised by the Sports Development Foundation, which while not a criterion, gives us legitimacy," he said.

Also on target for 2013, Monteith revealed, is the continued strengthening of the collegiate programme. Already the University of the West Indies, University of Technology, Portmore Community College, GC Foster College, and Mico University College are involved in an active collegiate league. Excelsior Community College could become the sixth team brought in and other colleges are being courted. Monteith sees success at this level as being critical to the sport's development going forward.

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