Senior rugby league returned after a two-year absence with Rugby League Jamaica staging its annual national trials match between Reds and Blues at the UWI Mona Bowl last Saturday. The national trials played under the Parish of Residence (POR) banner saw both men and women Reds squad marching to victory.

 In the women's game, Reds ran out winners 48-28 winners.

Shanique Smith led all scorers with a total of 24 points from four tries and four conversions.  Support came from Tarja Richards with four tries and Latoya Sanchez and Dae-Marie Whyte with one each. For the Blues, speedster Naomi Dodd led her team with 18 points from bagging four tries and kicking a conversion while Teresa Smith and Debisha Scarlett had a try each, Teresa Smith added a conversion.

 The men’s game was a humdinger that saw multiple lead changes and was only settled with three minutes remaining when flyer Jenson Morris dived in the right corner for his third try of the day and steal it for Reds.

Man of the match Owen Linton and Andrew Simpson were the other try scorers for Reds. For Blues, Adrian Thomas bagged two tries and captain Khamisi McKain and Steve Miller grabbed one each, Miguel Facey completed the scoring with a converted kick.

“It was a great game by both teams, all the players gave their all. I’m happy Reds came out with the win, but we have a lot to improve on for the remaining series,” said Reds coach Donovan Jackson.

Meanwhile, the Director of Rugby Romeo Monteith was elated to see the senior rugby league back.

“It’s fantastic to get the seniors playing again, it’s especially pleasing to see the debut of senior women rugby league and overall, we are pleased with the level of the players after being out for two years. All these players want to represent their country and the intensity of both games was a testament to that,” he said.

 The series continues on May 21 and 28 and both games will be at the UWI Mona Bowl.

 

Rugby League Jamaica will launch its 2022 Parish of Residence (POR) series which serves as the national selection tool for Jamaica’s domestic players to the full national team, the Reggae Warriors, this Saturday, April 3 when the first of three games will be played at the UWI Mona Bowl in Kingston.

The kick-off is at 2:30 pm with the women’s game, followed by the men’s clash at 4:00 pm. Games two and three will be played at the same venue on May 21 and 28.

As is customary, national prospects have been placed in two squads, Reds, and Blues with most of the Reds' players coming from Kingston and St. Andrew while the Blues will mainly comprise players from St. Catherine with some from other parishes.

On Saturday, history will be created when the women's teams take the field as it will mark the first-time full-contact women’s rugby league is played locally.

“The women’s match is a big deal for us, the ladies have a big opportunity to qualify for the 2025 rugby league World Cup in France and this game marks the beginning of that journey. We are inviting all talented female athletes to give rugby league a go and be part of history,” said Rugby League Director Romeo Monteith.

Blues women players squad Tihana Lewinson, Lovel Atkinson, Daynna Angus, Khimoi McKay, Naomi Mohamid, Vanessa Henry, Debisha Scarlett, Nazomi Christie, Ray-Anna McCalla, Naomi Dodd, Kimisha Jones, Shanoa Lewis, Teresa Smith and Ciara Modest. The team is coached by Andre Hill.

Reds Women are Shanique Smith, Latoya Sanchez, Alicia Richards, Aneil Campbell, MoeshaBogle, Brooke-Ashley Jarrett, Tiana Gordon, Shawna-Kay Douglas, Anna Kay Williams, Dae-Marie Whyte, Sheirne Johnson, Gabrielle Davidson, Candice Tulloch, Nicola Brissett and Lovell Evans. The team is coached by Andrew Dixon and Huntley Anderson.

Among the men, the Reds' team will comprise Andrew Simpson, Kenneth Walker, Adrian Brown, Kevin Thomas, Jenson Morris, Joseph Shae, Adrian Hall, Daniel Graham, Marvin Thompson, Andre McFarlane, Neville Lynch, Kile Nembhard, Owen Linton, Oshane Eddie, Sheldon Kelly, Michael Pearson, and Mahkaya Anderson. The head coach is Donovan Jackson.

Blues men’s team includes Javian Bryan, Adrian Thomas, Shaqueil Pollack, Steve Miller, Miguel Facey, Ryan Grant, Julius Reid, Akeem Murray, Omar Jones, Khamisi McKain, Reinhardo Richards, Chevaughn Bailey, Ronaldeni Fraser, Chevaun Smith, Takeem Creary, and Linval Green. The head coach is Otis Brae.

Brae believes his squad is prepared to go all the way.

“We are ready. The lads have put in practice and getting themselves prepared for this series. The stem is to leave it all on the field where if they do their best, they are already winners," he said.
Meanwhile, Jackson also expressed confidence that the experience of his unit will see them to victory.

“We have a good culture in our squad and enough experienced players to lead us to another series win. We have prepared well; the players know what is at stake and are ready,” he said.

Monteith, who is also Jamaica's head coach, believes a lot is at stake for the players intending to make it into the national squad.

“What is at stake are spots to the rugby league World Cup in England at the end of the year, the players are aware of this and so am expecting high-quality rugby league. The games are always close so the fans will be in for a treat," he said.

"I am really looking forward to identifying the top performers from game 1 and seeing if they can carry through to the next two games.”

British rugby league star Zak Hardaker suffered a suspected seizure on the day the 30-year-old's move to Super League club Leeds Rhinos was announced.

Hardaker was out walking with his young son when he collapsed, requiring help from a paramedic who lived on the street where the incident occurred.

The health scare happened on Tuesday, Leeds said, with Hardaker taken to Pinderfields hospital in Wakefield. He had trained with the Rhinos squad earlier in the day.

Leeds said Hardaker underwent "various investigations before being safely discharged home".

His Wigan exit last week was reported to have been as a result of a disciplinary issue, with Warriors executive director Kris Radlinski subsequently saying the Cherry and Whites were "extremely disappointed that his time at the club has had to end in this way".

It paved the way for Hardaker to make a short-term return to Leeds, for whom he played over 100 games earlier in his career, winning three Super League titles and Man of Steel honours.

Hardaker's career has been disrupted by a series of controversies, and the talented back served a drugs ban while at Castleford Tigers after testing positive for cocaine in September 2017.

He had been expected to return to Leeds colours against Hull KR at Headingley on Friday, but he will not feature.

Hardaker said on Thursday: "I would like to say a huge thank you to the paramedic who came to my aid and administered first aid before the ambulance arrived, it does not bear to think about what might have been the outcome without her quick thinking.

"It is so disappointing that I will not get to play on Friday, but the Rhinos have given me great support and I will make sure I complete all the tests necessary, and I hope to be back on the field as soon as possible."

The Jamaica Rugby League Association is set to officially restart national training for domestic players, after getting the green light from the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM).

The permission is timely as the Reggae Warriors are set to participate in the Rugby League World Cup in England at the end of 2022, and its domestic contingent has gone over 18 months without matches.

Plans are in place to have the maximum 50 male and a similar number of female players chosen, with two representative squads for each to then be selected under the Parish of Residence (POR) banner.

Team Red will feature players mostly residing or playing for clubs, colleges and universities in Kingston and St. Andrew whilst Team Blue will be made up of players mostly living in or playing for clubs, colleges, or universities in St. Catherine and other parishes.

Strict ODPEM Covid-19 protocols will be followed at all sessions and games. A total of five matches are expected to be staged from April to September, Covid conditions permitting. All players and officials must be vaccinated or undergo testing before each session.

“We would like to thank both ODPEM and the Ministry of Sport for the hard work being done to give National Governing Bodies the green light to return to some activity. Massive credit goes to our vice-chairman Adrian Hall who spearheaded our bid to return to train, it’s been an agonizing wait,” said JRLA Director of Rugby Romeo Monteith.

“Our rugby league community has been devastated by the long absence from playing and at least now our national players can officially resume preparation for the World Cup and other international events we are planning for the year. We continue to ask our wider members to be patient and exercise good judgement as we await further improvements in the health situation and a return to community and school rugby league.”

Australia and New Zealand have committed to playing in the rescheduled Rugby League World Cup next year.

The tournament was due to start in England last month, but was postponed after Australia and New Zealand pulled out due to safety concerns related to coronavirus.

Organisers put the World Cup back a year, with the event now set to start on October 15.

It was confirmed on Monday that defending champions the Kangaroos and the Kiwis will feature in the showpiece.

"Today is a very important and exciting milestone on our journey to 2022," Rugby League World Cup chief executive Jon Dutton said.

Organisers have vowed that the tournament will be "bigger, better and bolder than ever before."

A match schedule and tickets will be released on Friday.

Jamaica Rugby League head coach Romeo Monteith was full of praise for the Reggae Warriors after their sensational rally to draw 30-30 with Scotland in their international match at the Millennium Stadium in Featherstone on Sunday.

The Reggae Warriors, trailing by 20 points, scored six tries to five and came back from 30-10 down two minutes into the second half, superbly led by Ashton Golding - starting at loose forward for the first time - and Izaac Farrell on debut.

“Today we created history again, everyone should be proud of this team. We showed great character to come back from 20 points down and get a result against the ninth-ranked team in the world,” Monteith told Sportsmax. TV.

“It was a game of two halves; the last 40 we really showed the toughness and resilience we are made of. We will continue to build towards the World Cup in 2022, and this was the perfect boost for the programme.”

Scotland was excellently served by St Helens-bound James Bell, Barrow’s Charlie Emslie posting a try double for them on his international bow.

Jamaica raced into a 10-0 lead with tries from Jymel Coleman and an 85-metre pick up by Ben Jones-Bishop after Sam Luckley had lost the ball, the Bravehearts then holding out Golding and Izaac Farrell and preventing Mo Agoro crossing in the corner with some outstanding goal-line defence.

Keenan Tomlinson was sin-binned in the 25th minute as Jamaica’s discipline let them down and Scotland hit back with Emslie’s first – from a fine pass by Bell – and further tries from Ross Oakes on the overlap, Ben Hellewell diving on a loose ball and Dale Ferguson, all converted by Lachlan Walmsley on his first international start – to lead 24-10 at the break.

Emslie’s second from a spilt high kick seemed to have the Scots firmly in charge, but Jones-Bishop grabbed his brace, Joe Brown went in on the hour and Jordan Andrade crashed to the posts with 15 minutes to go.

Ferguson was sent to the bin with five to go for a high tackle and, switching play on the last, Jamaica’s Alex Brown powered into the corner to level, Izzac Farrell’s conversion attempt just falling short.

In the final minute, Ryan Brierley’s drop goal attempt for the Scots was touched in flight and the Reggae Warriors held on from the resulting dropout.

“It was a tough game, Scotland played really well. The momentum shifted in the middle of the game when we had Keenen Tomlinson sent off. We started fantastic and stuck to what we wanted to do early on, but our kick finishes were a bit poor,” said Reggae Warriors coach Jermaine Coleman.

“We came out in the second half and showed commitment and togetherness that will be the main thing to get us through the World Cup. Our talk at halftime-e focused on what can control such as our tackles, our finished and our energy. Ultimately that showed in the second game and on the back of that we nearly won the game, we certainly can take a moral victory from the draw.”

Monteith said the team had to overcome a lot and the victory was a positive catalyst heading into 2022. “The result does a lot for our confidence, it reinforces our belief that we are on the right track despite the many challenges we face. We had two of our staff members quit just before we played these games, we had 8 players unavailable due to one thing or another, we couldn’t get domestic players or staff to England due to Covid, so to face all these challenges, and end the year with a tie against Scotland, we can build on this moment,” he said.

The Reggae Warriors are currently ranked 20th in the world and defeated Canada and USA in 2018 to become the first Caribbean nation to qualify for a Rugby League World Cup. The postponed 2021 Rugby League World Cup takes in 2022 from October 15 to November 19.

 

 

Jamaica director of rugby/head coach Romeo Monteith and lead coach Jermaine Coleman have named their 19-man squad for Sunday’s Test match with Scotland, at the Millennium Stadium in Featherstone.

The Reggae Warriors are looking to bounce back from last Friday’s defeat at the hands of England Knights, with international ranking points up for grabs against the Bravehearts as both nations look to measure their progress 12 months out from the Rugby League World Cup.

 Super League stars Ashton Golding and Michael Lawrence are once more included, whilst Sheffield Eagle Izaac Farrell and Bradford Bulls’ David Foggin-Johnston are also named and could possibly debut, although Jordan Turner is not available.

 “We are excited to face Scotland for the first time, they are ninth-ranked in the world, a strong team with a host of Super League players and should give us another stern test. We expect an exciting brand of open rugby from both teams which should be a treat for the fans. We picked up a few knocks in our game against England Knights, but these two weeks with consecutive matches against strong nations is exactly what we need to give us an idea of what it will be like in the World Cup,” said Monteith.

“These games are also important in introducing the team to more fans in the UK with the invitation for them to adopt us as their second favourite side for the tournament. It’s not lost on us either that we are inspiring young Jamaicans and West Indians in the UK to have a go at the sport, and this can only help to build our profile and possibilities for the future.”

 JAMAICA SQUAD:

 Greg Johnson (Batley Bulldogs), David Foggin-Johnston (Bradford), Jon Magrin, Keenen Tomlinson (Dewsbury Rams), Danny Bravo, Ross Peltier, (Doncaster), James Woodburn-Hall (Halifax Panthers) Ashton Golding, Michael Lawrence (Huddersfield Giants), Aaron Jones-Bishop, Alex Brown, Jordan Andrade, Jy-mel Coleman (Hunslet), Mo Agoro, (Keighley Cougars), Jacob Ogden (London Broncos) Izaac Farrell, Joel Farrell (Sheffield Eagles), Joe Brown (Workington Town), Ben Jones-Bishop (York City Knights)

In their second ever clash with England Knights, the Reggae Warriors fell to a heavy 4–56-points defeat at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle Stadium in Castleford. The match featured as Jordan Turner’s Testimonial and saw over two thousand fans in attendance on a cold Castleford evening.

 The Reggae Warriors started positively, going directly up the middle and traded set for set with England with Props Michael Lawrence and Ross Peltier showing plenty of steam. There was the opportunity to go for two points after a late hit on scrum-half Jy-mel Coleman resulted in a penalty. However, the Warriors choose to run the ball and gave up the easy two-point option.

Peltier barged over the try line on the 13-minute mark but was held up by the defence. Unfortunately, in the same attacking set, Jordan Turner’s attempted pass to Jacob Ogden was intercepted by Jack Broadbent and the speedy English centre raced 95 metres to open the scoring. Will Pryce converted as Jamaica trailed 0-6.

England got on the score sheet minutes later when Danny Walker scurried over the try line from dummy-half.  Pryce again booted the extra two.

Jamaica made it 4-12 when another raid on the left edge saw Ben Jones-Bishop bully his way over the line. Coleman missed the conversion and that was the closest the Warriors would get to England for the rest of the evening.

England’s pace across the field, brilliant ruck defence and overall ruthlessness when they had scoring chances saw them rack up an additional 8 tries as the game unfolded. Jamaica would have felt hopeful at halftime when the score was 4-24, but England made sure there was no way back for the Warriors.

“I think we started the game well, but the interception changed everything. We were a bit poor around the ruck and conceded too many tries there. We probably lacked a bit of effort in the second half too and kind of succumbed to the game,” said Jermaine Coleman, the Warriors head coach.

“But it was good for us to blow the cobwebs off as a couple of our boys haven’t played for five or six weeks now. It was probably difficult to keep in shape the right way to play against the best young players England have to offer. We have Scotland next week and we have the opportunity to put some things right.”

Meanwhile, Director of Rugby and Head Coach Romeo Monteith the game was a good test to show where the team needs to improve.

“England put in a good performance, and nothing less was expected from a squad with 17 young full-time players eager to prove they can step up to the full senior team,” he said.

“We only had three full-timers and 17-part timers, we all saw the gulf in fitness after 10 minutes and that’s the nature of the sport. We obviously aren’t pleased with the scoreline, but as a programme, we cannot be afraid to face the best players and nations in the world when given the opportunity. It was great being able to support Jordan Turner’s testimonial and for us to measure ourselves.

“Next week, our full ranking international against Scotland will be another big test, they have 10 Super League players, and we will have to lift ourselves on and off the field to get the job done.

 These games provide invaluable yardsticks on where we are and what we need to do to get better. We didn’t prepare and qualify for a World Cup by playing easy teams. Similarly, we are playing tough teams as we prepare for our World Cup debut and hope that will result in us being competitive and springing a surprise or two.”

Jamaica director of rugby and senior head coach Romeo Monteith and lead coach Jermaine Coleman have named their 21-man squad for Friday’s representative clash with England Knights at Castleford’s Mend-A-Hose Jungle. The match is also being played for Reggae Warrior and Tiger Jordan Turner’s testimonial.

Kevin Naiqama was "overcome with emotion" after his two tries led St Helens to a 12-10 win over Catalans Dragons at Old Trafford, their third straight Super League Grand Final success.

Saints' 2020 triumph had come in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic in front of empty stands, but they had their fans back to celebrate the three-peat.

It was a far less dramatic victory than that last-gasp defeat of Wigan Warriors, however, even if the game swung back and forth, bookended by Naiqama's tries.

His first effort came as he fought through two challenges on the try line to touch the ball down.

But Catalans were just two points behind at the break and made the most of Tommy Makinson's yellow card – the first in Grand Final history – as Mike McMeeken grounded the ball after Josh Drinkwater's kick hung in the air and eventually dropped his way.

A more precise kick at the other end provided the final twist, though, with Jonny Lomax's no-look effort bobbling into the arms of Naiqama. Lachlan Coote made no mistake with the decisive extras.

Catalans had clinched their Leaders' Shield against Saints in astonishing fashion last month, trailing by 18 points with four minutes to play at Magic Weekend and winning.

Yet there was no repeat of those St James' Park heroics, as Dragons failed to mount another attack in the closing minutes.

"I'm overcome with emotion," Naiqama told Sky Sports. "I love this team and I love this town."

Penrith Panthers beat South Sydney Rabbitohs 14-12 to win the NRL Grand Final and exorcise the demons of their defeat in the 2020 showpiece.

Melbourne Storm just about held off a remarkable Panthers fightback last year, but this time around Ivan Cleary's side were in charge almost throughout.

The Panthers dominated much of the first half and were unfortunate to only be two points up at the break.

Matt Burton got the first try of the game as he capitalised on a poor read by Campbell Graham, but the Rabbitohs got one of their own soon after, Cody Walker dazzling with a solo run before tapping down.

The second period followed much the same pattern as the Rabbitohs found themselves under pressure for prolonged periods, and it eventually paid off 11 minutes from time.

Stephen Crichton intercepted a Walker pass near the 50-metre line and he ran clear to get the try, with Nathan Cleary adding the conversion.

The Rabbitohs had the opportunity to go level after Alex Johnston went over to get them back to within two points, but Adam Reynolds' touchline conversion attempt went wide of the posts with four minutes to go in what proved to be a cruel ending to the captain's time at the club.

The Panthers held on to win the Grand Final for the first time since 2003.

With the 2021 Rugby League World Cup being postponed until late next year, Jamaica’s Reggae Warriors are set to play two internationals next month as the Jamaica Rugby League (JRL) intends to make the extra year count.

Cronulla Sharks' Andrew Fifita was placed into a medically induced coma after sustaining a serious throat injury on Sunday, with his brother David thanking the NRL for their support.

Fifita was taken off 39 minutes into Sunday's game against Newcastle Knights in Brisbane and the Sharks later confirmed he suffered a fractured larynx

Approximately 20 minutes after full time, the 32-year-old was brought out of the changing rooms and onto the field, where he was examined by paramedics and transferred to hospital in an ambulance.

A statement from the Sharks read: "In updating the condition of Andrew Fifita, after conferring with specialists today at the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital, the Sharks can inform that Andrew has suffered a laryngeal fracture and is currently in an induced coma.

"Andrew is in a stable condition, with a surgical correction scheduled to take place tomorrow (Tuesday) afternoon.

"He is receiving the best possible care and all going well, it is expected he will recover in hospital for an extended period.

On Monday, Andrew's twin brother David – who plays for Super League side Wakefield Trinity – thanked fans for their support and concern but asked for privacy for his family.

"On behalf of the Fifita family, I would like to thank everyone for their support, concern and kind words during this difficult time that we face," he wrote on Twitter.

"As a family we ask everyone to please respect our privacy and allow Andrew and the family space to heal and recover.

"In saying this I would like to thank Cronulla Sharks and the NRL for helping support our family in Queensland through this time."

Rugby League World Cup organisers have confirmed the tournament that was scheduled for this year will now take place in 2022.

The event was set to be contested across October and November in England but was cast into doubt when Australia and New Zealand – two of the sport's three biggest nations – pulled out last month.

The withdrawal was a decision which was criticised as "premature" by a group representing Australian rugby league players. 

Both Australia and New Zealand still have strict rules for travel and quarantining due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Without two of the star attractions, organisers have decided to push the tournament back to next year.

"Today is a challenging moment for everyone involved in rugby league, but most importantly the players and fans of the competing nations," read a statement from World Cup organisers.

"We have always prioritised player voice and player choice. We have established a player working group, met with senior players and in the last few days commissioned a player survey to domestic players in Australia and New Zealand that showed more than 85 per cent wanted to compete at RLWC2021 this year.

"However, following the disappointing decision of the ARLC and NZRL to withdraw, and the subsequent impact on player availability for other competing nations, it is apparent that delivering the tournament this year would not be feasible."

The 2021 Rugby League World Cup is in jeopardy after Australia and New Zealand pulled out of the tournament due to player welfare concerns amid rising coronavirus cases.

The two heavyweight nations of the game have cited a spike in COVID-19 infections in the UK and a "worsening environment" in Australia.

England and Samoa are due to kick off the tournament at St James' Park on October 23.

The Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) and New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) have requested that the tournament be moved to 2022, although this is a course of action organisers may be loath to take given the prospects of a clash with the 2022 Cricket World Cup in Australia and the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

"The decision to withdraw from the RLWC2021 comes after considering the risk of COVID-19 infection in the United Kingdom, the worsening environment in Australia and the time a majority of NRL Premiership players will spend away from home under strict biosecurity conditions prior to the World Cup," a joint statement read.

"The ARLC and NZRL have resolved, that in the present environment the risks to athletes and officials travelling to the UK to participate in the tournament this year are too great, and it is unable to endorse Australia and New Zealand participating in the RLWC in 2021."

The withdrawal comes despite the fact Australia's rugby union team are still slated to play England at Twickenham on November 13.

Tournament organisers issued a statement expressing frustration at the announcement.

"RLWC2021 note the disappointing statement made by the ARLC and NZRL which may have wide ranging implications for international rugby league," read the Rugby League World Cup statement. "RLWC2021 were informed at very short notice and will continue discussions with all stakeholders to agree on the best way forward."

ARLC chairman Peter V'landys said: "Not participating in this year's World Cup is not a decision the commission has taken lightly, but we must put the best interests of our players and officials first. Protecting them is our absolute priority.

"In the current environment, the risks to the safety, health and wellbeing of the players and officials travelling from Australia to participate in the tournament this year are insurmountable.

"The majority of NRL players are currently living away from home under difficult biosecurity protocols. They would then be required to remain under protocols and away from home for the duration of the tournament before again quarantining on return to Australia. This is too much to ask our players and officials to do."

NZRL CEO Greg Peters added: "The safety and wellbeing of our people is the main priority, and unfortunately, that cannot be guaranteed to our satisfaction.

"There are stark differences between how the pandemic is being managed in the UK compared to Australasia and recent developments have highlighted how quickly things can change.

"The tournament organisers have moved heaven and earth to make this work, so it is not an easy decision, but the COVID-19 situation in the UK shows no sign of improving, and it's simply too unsafe to send teams and staff over."

Australia have won 11 of the 15 editions of the Rugby League World Cup, while New Zealand's 2008 triumph means there has not been a winner from outside Australasia since Great Britain in 1972.

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