A Good Move by the AMNRL

By Daniel Andruczyk

This week some controversy has been stirred up by the AMNRL with the announcement of their venue for the World Cup Qualifiers in October. The controversy stems from the fact that the stadium is a baseball stadium rather than a traditional “Football” stadium. However this is a very smart move by the AMNRL in a few respects. Let me go through why I think this is a smart move by the AMNRL and why fans everywhere should support it and not be too concerned.

Stadium

Campbell’s field, shown in the picture below, is a brand new stadium built for the minor League Baseball competition in new Jersey. It was completes in 2001 and it holds over 6500 fans. It being a new stadium means that it will have fantastic brand new facilities for the comfort of not only the players but also the fans.

66campbellsfield

Campbell’s Field in New Jersey, home of the 2011 World Cup Qualifiers for the Atlantic Region

Location

The Stadium, though technically located in New Jersey, is just on the other side of the Delaware River, across the Franklin Bridge from Philadelphia. It will be no problem getting to it from Philadelphia or the surrounding regions in my opinion. There seems to be decent public transport in the area. There is a tram stop 500m away and City Hall Train Station about 1 km away. So not too bad in that respect

campbellsfieldlocation

Location of Campbell’s Field with respect to Philadelphia. Its just across the river and border in NJ.

The map above should give a decent reference to where the stadium is with respect to Philadelphia. Some have said that the Fans from the Bulls and Bucks County teams will have problems traveling, well its Philadelphia, traffic is pretty bad there anyway, so it doesn’t matter where you put it, if there are going to be travel issues there will be travel issues. But hopefully the traffic issues on the New Jersey side, called Camden, should not have as many traffic problems. Fans should have no worries getting there.

Precedent?

One of the biggest concerns I have read about and heard is that the games are being played in a Baseball Stadium. A comment from one of RLIS’s readers says that it would have been better to play in a High School. My answer to this is no it isn’t. There are several reasons for this and I’ll address why the Baseball stadium is better:

  1. The fields in high Schools are American Football fields, the markings and where the goal posts are set out are not of a Rugby League standard or size. It might be good enough for the AMNRL to just put up with High School Fields, but for International Competitions like the World Cup Qualifiers, an extremely important event, it is not good enough.
  2. That time of year, Football training is starting and so the availability of high School stadiums would be out of the question. There would be no way a High School would allow 1 week of training to be abandoned for Rugby League. The kids I can tell you would be as likely to see it at school as they would be to go to the game in Camden.
  3. Astro Turf – Again this may be good enough for American Football where players are only exposed to one tackle at a time and usually not the kind of slipping and sliding that happens in league. They also have the longer leg gear to things like the knee grazing you can get wont happen. It may sound like its nothing, a bit of carpet burn, but when you have to consistently for three days keep doing it, it can be a real issue with the wounds continually opening up.
  4. By Having the game at a baseball field, you can actually have a proper Rugby league Field marked out, with the correct dimensions, with the correct posts. This is the most important things.
  5. Also in a high school ground the amount of fans you can get it in is smaller. The stadiums are usually designed for only 2-3000. Here at least we have the opportunity to get a 6-7000 crowd and the facilities to have TV there as well.

And one thing that needs to be realised, using Baseball Stadiums for football games is nothing new! The American Football teams have been doing this for nearly 100 years. So this in no new precedent or anything out of the ordinary to do. Just last year, the University Illinois Football team played Northwestern University at Wrigley Field in Chicago, which is the Cubs home ground.

http://nusports.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/042310aag.html

http://sports.espn.go.com/chicago/nfc/news/story?id=5824661

Also the Chicago bears used to play out of Wrigley field as well.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wrigley_Field

http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/chi-101118-bears-at-wrigley-field-pictures,0,1469772.photogallery

And also who can forget the fact that the New York Jets used to play out of Shea Stadium which was also the home to the New York Mets baseball team and for a season in 1975 the New York Giants also played there.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shea_Stadium

There are also many other examples of Baseball and Football teams sharing their stadiums

http://www.andrewclem.com/Baseball/Football_use.html

So using Campbell’s park for a Rugby league game really should not be anything out of the ordinary. As I stated earlier, the fact that it’s on grass and so a proper Rugby league field, of international Quality can be marked out and posts set out and the crowd have a decent stadium to sit ant watch the game is the biggest advantage of all.

Concerns

However, this does not mean there aren’t any concerns to be had. One of the biggest issues is player safety when it comes to the try zones. These will tend to be close to the walls and we know that when a kick and chase is on players can easily run through. Having a hard brick wall in the way could be an issue. This is a concern even for Football teams, last year the solution the Fighting Illini had in terms of their concerns was to switch play every time so that it was only going one way. This of course cannot be done in Rugby league due to its free flowing nature.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/20/sports/ncaafootball/20wrigley.html

Promotion will be the biggest issue. Though I have said that having the game in Camden should not be a big problem being right next to Philly, Promotion will still need to be a big thing. It will be interesting to see if the Logo will change from Philadelphia to New Jersey? Will there be a big media push with these games. I have not seen any media advertising anywhere for any of the Rugby league games in the USA so this is an area where the AMNRL has to step up to the plate.

For the USA, the National team make up will also be of interest. I think its a no brainer that the Tomahawks will be stacked with as many heritage players as there can be. Under the current rules this mean 15/20 can be heritage players leaving only 5 spots for local players, pretty tough for players in 5 teams and also two expansion teams and also Hawaii. There being all up about 10 teams with players in the running, means that people will miss out.

Then there is the USARL debate and if their players will at any stage be in the running. If they do then you have another 8 teams to consider.

World Cup Qualifiers – Atlantic Region

Game 1: Saturday – 15 October 2011 – South Africa Rhinos vs. USA Tomahawks

Game 2: Wednesday – 19 October 2011 – Jamaica vs. South Africa Rhinos

Game 3: Sunday – 23 October 2011 – USA Tomahawks vs. Jamaica

Don’t forget that also the USA Tomahawks and Canada Wolverines will be playing a 2 game series, The Colonial Cup, on 27 August in Philadelphia and September 17 in Toronto. The South Africans will also have a warm up match against the Canadians on the 24th September in Toronto.

I’ll be there covering the Qualifiers and one of the Colonial Cup games. And I am hoping that I will have the chance to see the South African Warm Up game as well.

 

Daniel Andruczyk’s email: daniel@rugbyleagueinternationalscores.com
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37 Responses to “A Good Move by the AMNRL”

  1. tax_dodger says:

    Totally agree with your sentiments dru. Glad to see it will be played at a proper stadium, instead of high school football fields or a park field, as it is a huge occasion. It will be good to see rugby posts and rl pitch markings as well, as opposed to usually american football. I wonder if this could be a problem for the Americans however, as they are used to American Football markings?

    Btw, do you know if there’s any chance these qualifiers will be televised, for International rights, or shown online? Thanks.

    • druzik says:

      Well its hard to get any response from Niuy … but if his tweets are to be believed then he is in some sort of negotiations to do with that I think.

      So I will say a tentative, yes, they will be televised or shown live somewhere…. maybe WAR will try and stream the games live once again.

      • tax_dodger says:

        Cool. Though shouldn’t it be decided and sorted by the RLIF/RLEF rather than David Nui??

      • druzik says:

        This is Rugby league!!

        Sensible suggestions like that have no place in our sport!

        Lol 😉

      • tax_dodger says:

        Haha! Though this is a tournament organised by the RLIF, not the AMNRL, so it should really be the former’s job.

      • druzik says:

        You would think… but look at who is in the RLIF that … well actually knows what the hell’s going on outside of Australia and the UK… only maybe Tas and Niel Wood. I am sure they have their hands full already without having to deal with that … I think they are hoping for the locals to organise something and then someone picks it up.

  2. alex-p says:

    With regards to heritage eligibility, for WC qualifying games there should be a cap of 6 non resident players.

    And for the finals switch it to a minimum of 6 resident players per 24 man squad.

    • druzik says:

      There should be but I think its a 20 man squad with up to 15 Heritage players … or Overseas players that can be brought in.

      Its a delicate issue actually, If local players don’t get an run, and many have been promised the chance to play in Tomahawks, then it could hurt the AMNRL more then help them.

      • tax_dodger says:

        Wow, 15/20! That’s disgraceful tbh. OK the USA ‘might’ be technically stronger by filling their squad with Aussies, but then it’s hardly an American side. Teams that don’t have heritage players to call on are always going to struggle against teams packed of overseas players (Tonga, Samoa, Scotland etc.) I believe that teams should be full of local players and if their teams are not good enough, then they need to sort their standards out.

      • druzik says:

        Am pretty sure its 15/20 … it was in the last World Cup, and I am pretty sure it hasn’t changes. Certainly that number has been quoted to me through various sources over the last year, including withing the RLIF and RFL.

      • jannerboyuk says:

        That could be a fatal error. If the amnrl main attraction is control of the tomahawks then excluding local players in an attempt to get to the world cup is a helluva gamble in keeping people in the amnrl.

      • druzik says:

        You are correct, that is a big gamble.

  3. dragons4eva says:

    Interesting blog Druzik. You have some valid points and i guess you’ve convinced us that the AMNRL will have no trouble painting a good sized RL field. Also the stadium looks flash so hopefully fans and media alike will like the experience of the RLWC qualifiers!

    P.S. My guess is on the South Africans!

    • druzik says:

      South Africa! … Wow that is out of left field.

      I am sticking with Jamaica with their O/S players…. though if the americans with their heritage players will be quite strong as well.

  4. RedVee says:

    Thanks Druzik,
    a good write up, makes some sense now.
    any ideas on the size of the grass area? Perhaps it will be like some of the English grounds will full size play area but small in-goals to account for the wall?

    • druzik says:

      Well here is the website for the field, and has the dimensions at the bottom.

      http://www.riversharks.com/campbellsfield.cfm

      So from the hitters point to the 325 foot mark, is 98.5 meters, from there to the duggouts I guess there could be another 10 meters or so. So I think you are right, about having the smaller dimensions. I really am hoping that the AMNRL will not pull a swift one and go in yards (1 yard = 3 feet) which would give it the same size as an american football field.

  5. Interested Observer says:

    Be interesting to see if the playing field is set up in the out field away from the diamond. If so, fans will be watching from a long way away in the stands. If it is set up closer to the stands, then there will be issues with the diamond and the fact the the pitchers mound is elevated. What will they do about all of the dirt as well?

    • druzik says:

      Well if you look at the pics of the NFL pitches on the fields they go over the baseball diamond. The Pitchers mound is just dirt so I don’t see how its an issue removing it and then replacing it.

      The only way it will work if the field does goes over that diamond.

  6. Ian Volante says:

    Similar situation down under with cricket pitches turning to other uses in the winter. Sounds like a good idea to me.

  7. roml357 says:

    I know its been out for awhile but the tomahawks have the advantage in having there games a week apart giving more time to heal up, rhinos and jamaica get the rough end of the stick there.

  8. roml357 says:

    Another question, what happen to japan?

  9. major says:

    everything looks incredible. so many options in that stadium! Great job AMNRL .

  10. Jim says:

    Only shame is the way it’s heading there will only be two national teams showing up to the tournament; Jamaica and South Africa playing off an AMNRL all star side.

  11. Interested Observer says:

    Nice work Jim, I think you hit the nail on the head.

    The AMNRL need to swallow their pride and stop the rot going on with the USARL. The new comp has some top players in it and from what I have seen, read and heard, the USARL have delivered a better RL comp this year than the AMNRL have. The guys playing in the new comp have as much right to warrant selection in the national team as the AMNRL players do.

    It is a disgrace to think that guys will be selected through the heritage rule who don’t even play or live in the USA yet dozens of good, quality American born players who are playing in a regular USA based domestic competition aren’t eligible for selection. It’s absolute nonsense and the RLIF need to sort this out ASAP. And before you ask Major, I am not playing in the USARL.

  12. major says:

    Anyone can be selected no matter what league your in . You just have to be good enough. The avg american who plays in the Rugby League has less then 30-40 league games experience no matter what league they are in . There are 1 or 2 guys per team who have a little more experience. While a player that is American-Aussie or English that played since he is 7 years old has amassed 200-400 games at a pretty high level …

    • druzik says:

      No they can’t … it has been stated by the AMNRL administration that NO USARL player will be considered for National selection, so the ststement that “no matter what league you’re in” does not apply … unless you now know something that no one else knows?

  13. major says:

    I’m an American and there is so much to learn about rugby before you should play on a national team . An American plays 3 years of union at college rugby with usually avg coaching and says they play 3 years of rugby . That usually means they partied thru college and played about 10 low level union games . Now lets say this same guy plays league in the summer and plays 3 seasons . Well he has a few family events and weddings in the summer . So lets say he avgs. about 6 League games to 8 a year and 25 practices . That’s a best case scenario. So now your going to say that because this guy is a great athlete (lets say he can bench 250 lbs and is very fast) he should make the team over a second teir Aussie-Heritage American who has given his life to the sport of Rugby league since he was 6 years old.

    I see no difference. let the best player play. The Heritage player has by far put much more time into the sport. And who knows after he makes the USA maybe he comes and plays in America helps the USA grow even better.

    • druzik says:

      The Aussie athlete has given himself to the sport … but has he given himself to the country … that’s what its about. I have no issue about the heritage players playing for America or any other nation, as long as they stick with them and are available for every international … not brought in as mercenaries. That’s is the issue.

      Playing for America once every 4 years does nothing for the development of the national team, its playing consistently where local players can learn from them on a regular basis. New players will got through the national team on a very regular basis and will not always overlap when a heritage player comes in for only a few games every 4 years … they do not get any of this valuable learning experience.

      The other issue is that if you have a team of 15/20 stacked with heritage players there is no room for any other local players to interact and learn anything from them, and when they leave those 5 leave you have 15/20 new local guy that have zero experience and no exposure to the heritage players.

      Also without the constat exposure to heritage players and new plays they may have etc… anything they do learn they will forget very quickly. Stacking a national team with heritage mercinaries is not the answer to Rugby league in the USA … It may get David his dream of getting the USA to the World Cup but it will not help the USA in the end.

      • Ryan says:

        Thoroughly agree.

        I think maybe bring in heritage players for Fullback, Half, Five-Eighth and Hooker, with US guys being their understudies so they can pick up the nuances of these more creative/important play making positions. If the US has a good “spine” I’m sure there’d be plenty of domestic players athletically capable of filling the other roles. Guys like Akarika Dawn (if the AMNRL do indeed select from both competitions, like Matthew Elliot said), Apple Pope, and who knows what talent will come out of Hawaii, it’d be great if they got Vaka Manupuna again, it’s guys like this with college level American Football backgrounds, who, although not well versed on Rugby League’s nuances, will help the US out athletically and especially size wise, because Rugby League is starting to become a game of size. There’s also plenty of other talent without American Football backgrounds in both competitions, and they deserve a chance to represent the USA as well.

  14. major says:

    above error – “10 low level games” I forgot to write” per year and 30 total for their college career

  15. Interested Observer says:

    Major, you have contradicted yourself a number of times and seemed to have completely missed my original point. You state that any player can make the USA team if they are good enough, well that is not correct. Anyone playing in the new USARL comp, which appears to be a strong and well run competition, is not eligible for selection because the AMNRL have their nose out of joint. This reduces the player pool of home grown talent by more than half.

    The AMNRL are picking many guys in their development pool based on athletic ability, union experience and american football (this sums up many of the Hawaii based players). When you consider that there are guys playing in the USARL competition, who have far more rugby league experience and who have played at a higher level, in the USA and overseas, who are being overlooked by selectors, this is a farce. It can’t be justified in any way that makes sense.

    I have played with American born guys who have more skill and talent then aussies or poms who have played longer. Where you are born doesn’t always equate to rugby league skill Major. It obviously has a lot to do with experience but it isn’t the be-all end-all.

    USA based guys need to play in the Tomahawks with a hand full of imports to gain experience. That is how development works. 15 ring ins, in a team of 20 does not afford USA based players much of an opportunity.

    The AMNRL need to pull their fingers out and let USARL players be selected in the Tomahawks. Perhaps the AMNRL are concerned that so many of the USARL players are good enough they will give the AMNRL players a run for their money.

    On a side issue, how about a USA Club Challenge this year? The USARL Premier v AMNRL Premier……be interesting

  16. Chris Sanders says:

    So why can’t the USARL form their own National Team and we all love the Major, the voice of reason.
    Long live the Major!

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