American Division in the West

By Daniel Andruczyk

Now that I have your attention… some encouraging news this week from the Western AMNRL that is being slowly but surely setting up in the USA. It relates more specifically to the Denver (Colorado) Wolverines and the info from Jeff Eberle. It gives a unique insight to the trials and tribulations of setting up a new team let alone sport in an area.

The Future Looks Bright

The Denver club at the moment has 30 people interested in playing the sport either competitively and socially. The great news is that the majority are all locals, yes Americans that want to play and only a handful of ex-pats. Some seem to be from different parts of the state or country interested in coming to help establish the club. These are great numbers, enough for a foundation of a team in the W(AMNRL). They also are in the process of creating partnerships within the Rugby union community and of course other AMNRL and W(AMNRL) expansion clubs. All this is with the goal of promoting Rugby League across the western region.

Issues Faced


Despite all this there still are some problems facing the Denver team, and am sure many of the other Western Expansion teams:

  1. A Lack of Rugby League coaches. Player interest has been good, but all of the teams are struggling to find there is a general call out to people who may be interested in coaching, or if anyone you know might be interested in coaching.
  2. Travel concerns. With the USA and the West being so big it puts the expansion clubs at a disadvantage when compared to the existing AMNRL clubs along the east coast of the USA. This has resulted in the realization that teams cannot feasibly travel every weekend to a different West AMNRL city for a match.


So what are the solutions to these problems?

  1. Coaches and staff – There is a general call out to people who may be interested in coaching, or if anyone you know might be interested in coaching.
  2. The issue of travel – it has been agreed that a 2011 season consisting of regional “weekend tournaments” will be the best solution.

The region/division that the Wolverines will be part of looks like will be Denver, Salt Lake City, Phoenix and Las Vegas. Each of those cities have people also working to establish clubs and it is hoped that by June 2011, each city will have a Rugby League team and program up and running.


If the other clubs in the region can get established then the focus can be on the weekend tournaments. Two days in a “host” city with 4 teams competing in a “Round Robin”. Every 2-3 weeks over the summer a new city will host a tournament. This “weekend tournament” format will accomplish several goals:

  • It will minimize travel expenses for all clubs involved in the AMNRL western expansion. Meeting every few weeks in a host city will be far more affordable and practical than traveling to a different city each week.
  • This format will maximize games. Instead of traveling each week for one game, the tournament setting will ensure each team will play at least two games a weekend.
  • Maximum exposure. One match may draw a few fans, put a well promoted weekend tournament should draw a good crowd. Promotion of the AMNRL and rugby league in the western region has been identified as a key to its success. There is Merritt behind this as rugby union has grown this way in the Denver area through excellent promotion over the last decade. The same can work for rugby league throughout the west. Marketing and promotion need to be the immediate focus of 2011. Once the AMNRL has established itself in the west, we can focus on a weekly schedule, and a traditional season.
  • Weekend tournaments, every few weeks, will open the schedules of players. Rugby League will not dominate everyone’s summer schedule. Matches will be after the spring union season so there no conflict between the two codes.
  • The plan is still June-July-August in between the union schedules.

This format does not rule out other games if they can be arranged with other teams either, that will be up to each individual team, but the main focus is the weekend tournaments.

Other Developments

It looks as if Denver is a strong contender to host the Rugby League Colonial Cup in May of 2011. This is an annual match played between the USA Tomahawks and the Canadian National team (also called the Wolverines) for bragging rights in North America.  David Niu, President of the AMNRL and Coach of the Tomahawks has stated his interest in hosting the match in Denver to help promote the AMNRL western efforts. There are current discussions on venue and also a date in May.

The Denver Wolverines are now officially licensed as an LLC with the State of Colorado.

A January “Meet and Greet” was being planned to meet all of those who are interested in playing/supporting the Denver Wolverines, but that has pushed back to early February.

There will be Wolverines T-Shirts available in mid to late January. Proceeds will go to the club and be used for jerseys/equipment.


All in all there is some great work being done over in the United States. The East coast already is well Established but looks like now there will finally be a proper Western part of the country, and so the USA, along with Papua New Guinea probably will be the only countries that can boast that Rugby league is played through the whole country.

If you want to help out the Denver Wolverines and other W(AMNRL) teams then here are a few contacts:

Facebook page: “Rugby League Denver”
Club contacts: Nathan Urquhart
Jeff Eberle:


Daniel Andruczyk’s email:
banner ad

49 Responses to “American Division in the West”

  1. Stu Lockie says:

    Excellent news – I look forward to the WAMNRL becoming as established as the East Coast soon. I’d also like to see the AMNRL do something about it’s website – far too long “under construction”.

  2. juro says:

    If travel distances are prohibitive, wouldn’t it be better for smaller regions to be established where you could drive a couple hours maximum? eg, Colorado has its own region instead of a south west USA region where the only way of getting together would be to fly. You could possibly have teams in Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs, etc… I’m just looking at names on a map so don’t have much idea on the sizes of cities.

    I guess one problem with this may be getting enough players for teams…

    • druzik says:

      That travel region is not too bad. example, Denver to Salt lake is only 600 km, so about 8 hour drive, very do-able (they do have the rocky’s in the way)

      The Larges distance will be Las Vegas to denver which is 1000 km, which is the equivalent to Sydney-Brisbane.

      Denver to Phoenis is similar.

      So those distances are not outrageous for them to do… Its a nice regional division to have like in the NFL.

  3. Cheyne Maher says:

    In terms of attracting coaches and rugby league knowledge, maybe an idea could be simply to invite anyone who has rugby league knowledge from Australia/NZ/UK etc and is on holidays in the USA to perhaps provide anywhere from a one off training session to a months’ worth of training sessions (depending on that persons holiday arrangements).

    Obviously each club would need a head coach who works on a permanent basis, but especially if they have a limited background in the code, i am sure they and their players could benefit from having advice and knowledge shared from qualified Rugby League people from the codes heartlands.

    Having visits from such coaches/trainers/players would certainly allow the coaches to learn how to teach the subtleties of the sport (eg. tackling technique, controlling the ruck, drawing and passing, running lines) and expand their range of suitable drills which prepare their players for the specific skills and fitness required to improve their performance.

    This would be done on a voluntary basis, although perhaps there could be incentives such as free accomodation in the area, or a cheap feed at a restaurant or club that might be sponsoring the team etc.

    The type of people who may be useful in helping in such a way would not neccesarrilly be restricted to those who have played at a professional level.

    Anyone who has grown up playing/coaching/watching rugby league in areas such as Sydney, Brisbane, country NSW, country Qld, Auckland, the north of England etc and is confident in sharing their knowledge could be useful.

    I know if i were on holidays in such a country and the logistics made it possible, i would love to run a few training sessions for those who are quite new to the sport.

    Come to think of it, such a program would not only work in the USA, but could indeed work in all parts of the world where Rugby League has a foothold, but is not a dominant sport eg. Jamaica, the Pacific Islands, Europe, South Africa, Canada, South East Asia.

  4. roml357 says:

    So Druzik has the whole nrlus thing being scrapped now? Havent heard anything about it in ages.

    • druzik says:

      Yes its still an aim, whether its 2011 or 2012 remains to be seen and is dependent on a few factors.

      I was actually speaking with Niuy earlier today, he is on TV negotiations all this week.

      I think the issue is that they don’t want to get on another false start again, people were very critical of the whole thing last time and when it didn’t come about when promised it was everyone stabbing the AMNRL in the back saying “I told you so”… instead of “how can we help”.

  5. Jeff Eberle says:

    Thanks for posting this, and thanks for the comments below. We are heading in to uncharted waters, being the first RL team in Denver (and one of the first in the Western USA).

    It’s been challenging and fun to get this far, and I am really confident that denver will lead the way for RL in the West. The people in Denver have really embraced Rugby Union over the past decade, and I see those same fans supporting League. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen if we stick to our guns and see this through.

    I do like the idea of establishing a “Colorado” Rugby League, but that is years off. The sport is so unknown, that a league within our own State won’t be realistic for many years. Unless….we can convince all of the local Union clubs to field a summer “League” squad.

    Right now the interest in RL is scattered in the USA. RL has a good following on the East and West coasts, but through the mid-west and Rocky Mountain West (where Denver is) RL support is concentrated in the big population centers. Denver has an advantage because we have a fantastic Rugby Union community, and boast the only municipally owned rugby stadium in the USA. We’ve gotten good interest in RL because RU is already an established fixture in Denver. But many other cities in the west don’t have such a strong RU community to draw from. That’s why we’re looking at a region that spans a lot of territory. In the west we have mountains and deserts and lots of open spaces in between! If clubs can get started in Phoenix,Las Vegas, Salt Lake City,and Denver, it won’t be too bad. Each city is bewteen an 8-12 hour drive from each other,or a short, cheap flight. It’s not the optimal plan, but it is what we have to work with right now.

  6. C.T.SANDERS says:

    The start of something big for the game.

  7. dragons4eva says:

    Thanks for the blog Druzik. Good to hear news from Western America. I hope everything works out for you guys and Rugby League gets off the grounds.
    Maybe oneday RL in America could be split into an East and West Conference and the finalists play one another? Then maybe you could have like the East vs West like in the NBA?…dunno just a thought lol
    Anywayz Druzik, WAMNRL people…keep up the GREAT WORK!!!

  8. Warren Heilig says:

    Hi Druzik,
    Mate why dont they consider doing a coaching course (crash course all be-it) over 2 weekends? Mate I would even be willing to fly over for 2 weeks and help run it if that is what it takes to get league up and running. If your reading guys the offer is always open for help. I know what your going through and I am always happy to lend a hand whenever you need it.

  9. dragons4eva says:

    Hey this is just something that i found but their rugby exercises, training drills etc that maybe you guys can use; some i think can be used for both Rugby codes but it shouldn’t be a problem i think for Rugby League. You don’t even need to be a professional coach to use these,

    The two videos are of footwork and defence drills. It’s done by a guy who use to be a NSWRL and ARL technical coach and fitness (by the info in the video). I hope this helps you guys getting started if you have coach problems.

  10. Mike says:

    Seattle Force Rugby League is better 😛

  11. Sounder's 74 says:

    @MIKE Iagree! Do anyone know if Canada is getting their own Rugby league.

  12. C.T.SANDERS says:

    So all those wankers in the administration of the game with all those negative thoughts who rubbished the then usa president mike mayer in the 1970’s in that he was full of bullshit in trying to get rugby league establish in america, will now have to eat humbie pie.
    Mike Mayer, a former american football star, loved rugby league football so much and couldn’t understand why the game remained a mystery from the rest of the world considering it wasn’t even played behind the iron curtain and then understood why it was kept as a secret from all and sundry.
    The administrators he later found had a huge inferiority complex about their own sport that it was almost an embarrassment when he came down to new zealand and stayed with bob rogers here in auckland in the mid-70’s when i was actually playing.
    Of course the rl people didn’t take mike seriously because even during those times which is no different now[ especially at auckland rugby league]our officials apart from cec mountford, bob rogers and bud lisle always thought small and couldn’t think outside the square and see the big picture.
    However,for once the poms had enough initative to think outside the square largely thanks to dave oxley and found value in mayer in reguards to sponsorship monies from an american cigarette company which saved the english game from oblivion.
    Make Mayer showed his real worth in securing a huge sponsorship deal from american cigarette company state express which sponsored the state express challenge cup competition to the tune of 330,000 pounds from 1978 to 1983 a 5 year deal which revitalised the game in the north of england.
    Mike told me that the greatest thing was to do things that people said can’t be done.People tell me that rugby league in america is only a pipedream.In my book it’s an absolute.
    Mike mayer, we salute you as one of the original pioneers along with the immortal harry sunderland who died before his time.
    We owe you people a lot in reguards to america the greatest horizon for our game.

  13. C.T.SANDERS says:

    I don’t know paul but he tried very hard to get a professional rugby league going in america in the mid-70’s but never,ever got the support from the irlb as it was known then.
    Apart from sir david oxley from the rfl, no one took him seriously and the australians treated him like shit.
    He had a brillant mind and had a huge knowledge on all sport unlike the mugs that run our game today.
    Apart from doyle and tas the rest of them i wouldn’t give them the dole.
    We could now do with another mike mayer in america now along with the immortal harry sunderland plus johnny quayle,bud lisle,andrew chalmers the brillant maori boy,george rainey,a paul matete,another sir david oxley, a dave robertson,ces mountford,a ray cody,bob rogers and a jack redwood all brillant administrators and visionaries.
    In reguards to mike i don’t know where he is now paul and maybe sir david oxley might know.

  14. Glenn Csonka says:

    I really hope that the Western expansion works out. The AMNRL has done a lot of good things in the past 13 years. To get to the level where the sport is right now from a grassroots level is quite amazing.

    That being said; the league really needs an infusion of money. The playing venues may be the most important aspect of weather or not the AMNRL can grow. I can only speak about what I’ve dealt with un Pittsburgh, but finding a good venue at a low cost is almost impossible.

    Although there are many high school football fields available (although all of them are artificial surface) in the summer months, no high school is willing to you play there unless a list of conditions are met. These conditions usually consist of a pricetag of about $10,000 for the season and a lot of stipulations and liability clauses. The school boards are very fearful of letting a team not associated with the school playing in thier stadium because they’re afraid of setting a precident that would open the floodgates for everyone else.

    This situation has forced teams to play in community parks and takes the ability to charge admission out the equation that could happen if teams are able to play in a stadium. This also has an impact on securing sponsors since many businesses won’t want to put money in to any sort of field advertising (if the current venue allows you to put up advertising banners) if there are no fans to see their banner.

    If all of the teams were all given a jumpstart of securing a good venue, then everything would fall into place. Teams would be looked at as a more legitimate club, rather than something that more resembles a weekend softball league sponsored by the local bar.

    The sport would see an increase in fans (and ticket revenue), an increase in sponsorships and it would help to lure television coverage (to be fair, I’m hoping that David Niu will have something pretty good lined up with the current negotiations).

    Of course one problem that may make finding a venue more difficult would be the pitch size. It seems that many teams are playing on an American football gridiron, using the 100 yards (91.4 meters)x 53.3 yards (48.7 meters), rather than 100 meters x 68 meters.
    The difference in width is very large. Do the teams play with different sizes from one city to another or is there a standard set for one pitch size or another?

  15. deluded pom? says:

    Did David Oxley get knighted without anyone else knowing C.T.?

  16. C.T.SANDERS says:

    To my knowledge he did, but if not, should of been knighted for his services to the game because when he first came into it, the game was in a real mess and dying on the vine.Rugby League was largely perceived as a northern game in the early 70’s and it’s still struggling even now to get out of that rut.Without oxley there would be no game and if it wasn’t for eddie waring bbc commentaries in the 50’s and 60’s there would of also been no game as well.Live tv saved our game from dying because it gave it a national audience and appreciation according to harry gration a bbc tv commentator.
    Oxley brought in huge sponsorships for the game that was struggling on its’ knees,he made tours more fashionable and profitable,but more importantly,he introduced rugby league to new horizons like the soviet union in 1989 and it wasn’t sel and ivy bennet who invented the game there like so many idiots here in nz think and talk about self promotion.All they did was sponge off kamaldinov because they never,ever put a cent of their own money into the game in russia at all.
    Apart from dave oxley 2 other people i feel should of been knighted in reguards to the british game.Neil fox, still the record points scorer of all time, who played rugby league well into his 50’s playing as an amateuer and giving something back to the game that he loved so much and of course alex murphy who is a legend of the game and well known.
    Here in nz we had our first ever knight in shining armour in reguards to rugby league football in the shape of former all black coach fred allen without a shadow of a doubt new zealand’s greatest ever rugby union coach.
    From 1965 to 1969 the all blacks never lost a game under him and the only hiccup was the 3 all draw with east wales in 1967 with frank wilson scoring for the welsh team.Wilson later signed up for st helens and toured down under with the welsh side in 1975 in the 2 legged world cup of that year and toured again the year later with st helens where he played right wing against auckland at carlaw park.Auckland beat the saints 20/13 with dave sargent the referee before a crowd of 15,000.
    Allen played for the linwood club in christchurh as a youngster and there’s a picture of him in the clubrooms and he fondly remembers his days in rugby league.
    Fred is now 90.


  17. C.T.SANDERS says:

    Well it’s funny deluded pom in that up to 1978 no one in england wanted to know rl.They couldn’t get sponsors and who got that american cigarette company if it wasn’t mike mayer?Go back and read the history books and get it right.Prove me wrong.No wonder you poms are only playing dog tucker.
    We had the same scenario here in nz in 1979.We couldn’t get sponsorships at all because the game was only strong in auckland and wasn’t seen as a national game like rugby was.TV was controlled from wellington and there was hardly any rl on tv and hence potential sponsors didn’t want to know because they couldn’t get tv coverage at all or even air time on local radio.
    Ces Mountford got us a huge sponsorship from autex industries based in advondale here in auckand,a 5 year deal worth $100,000 from 1979 to 1983 which even saved our game.Dave robinson a rugby union man from the north of england[yorkshire] who owned autex was indeed the saviour of our game because we were on the bones of our arse.
    If sponsorship is so easy deluded pom how come the game still struggles in getting it now,what happened to the tv deal in the usa for their professional competition and why isn’t there a sl competition throughout britain instead being based in only the north of england?

    • druzik says:

      Every one was jumping in bed with american cigarrette companies… hell the NSWRL was in bed with several of them. You had the Will’s cup, Rothmans Medal, Winfield Cup Benson and Hedges was on board for a while… hell you can;t just pick and choose here Chris. You need to look at the broader over view not be selective of only specific things to “only back you up”.

  18. C.T.SANDERS says:

    And deluded pom the 1979 dad’s army tour of australasia made a 300,000 pound loss the first lions tour in history to do so.
    Not only was the club game struggling in the north of england but the national team was also struggling as well on the paddock which started a gradual decline in the british game.
    However,on the new zealand segment of the tour,we[nzrl]made a huge profit climaxing with that superb win by the brits over a star studded auckland team in front of a crowd of 20,000 at carlaw park.
    Phil hogan and davey toplis stared for the tourists and of course there were massive fights from go to woa involving the great late douglas gailey,len casey,roy mathias and the whole of the gb pack and gailey managed to run out of sparring partners.
    It was brillant stuff and will live in the memory for ever and a day.

  19. deluded pom? says:

    Stop twisting my words C.T. Where did I say sponsorship was easy to come by? Read what I said again and then I MIGHT take you seriously. So it took a Pom to save NZ rugby league from extinction :-)We DO have a use then? Merry Chrimble C.T.

  20. C.T.SANDERS says:

    Of course you people have and dave robinson should be on the new revamp irlf as well deluded pom because love,gallop,haffenden and lewis aint worth feeding.
    So if that intial sponsorship from state express didn’t save the game what did?
    Mike Mayer told me it did because american mainstream tv beamed live challenge cup games back to america and in those days only the bbc telvised games{usually the second half] and no other tv channel did.
    In the late 70’s rugby league in the north of england was the sick man of europe.
    Whether you take me seriously or not won’t worry me.I won’t lose any sleep over it because at the end of the day you’ll only be battling the officials in the north of england and you may never,ever see another successful english rl team ever again in your lifetime largely thanks to the mugs that run the game in your country.
    The officials that run your game are all blind and talk about the blind leading the dumb.
    No wonder good salt of the earth rl people in the north of england have walked away from the game in their droves.
    We aren’t much good but at least we have won the world cup,the tri-nations and the 4-nations recently and you lot have won sweet FA.
    Have a go and run down your officials for a change.Are you too scared to run them down on internet deluded pom because you obviously too scared to use your real name.
    Want me to rub methylated spirits on your chest to give you a bit of jam tart deluded pom and stop living in a delusion.

  21. deluded pom? says:

    Once again C.T. fails to read what I have posted correctly. You carry on blundering your way through life C.T, where only YOUR opinion matters.

  22. C.T.SANDERS says:

    So who started the ball rolling in britain in the mid-70’s deluded pom if wasn’t dave oxley or mike mayer?Maurice lindsay.Name them?

  23. C.T.SANDERS says:

    Rothman’s was backing rugby league here in nz in the early 1960’s.That how the nzrl got ces mountford to come back to nz in 1961 from his club committments with warrington.
    Mountford became nz’s first ever fulltime didector of coaching.
    Of course the whole world knew that australian rugby league had plenty of sponsorship reguarding cigarette companies, many of them, american companies backing the game up in both nsw and queensland where rl was top dog.Rl was an institution in those places and when cigarette companies backed rl the game had money coming out of its ears.It also had craven mild cigarette company backing them up as well and of course in australia rugby league was shown on tv morning,noon and night unlike here in nz and the north of england where it was hardly ever shown at all.A big difference in my book.
    However,i was talking about england in 1978 when the game reached rock bottom and was virtually on the bones of its arse.A different kettle of fish from australia where the game was booming unlike the north of england where it was stagnating.
    Apples and oranges.

    • druzik says:

      No apples and apples… you are making rules up to try and make a non existent point… Australia had cigarette sponsorship, so England had it… so what… if it saved the game there good on them, smart move. It did the same for the game in Australia.

  24. C.T.SANDERS says:

    And that’s the whole point daniel.Rugby league people in the north of england,the eastern seaboard of australia and here in auckland are hoping and praying that the game in america falls over and then they will all say’we told you so’.They all want to see it fail there but it ain’t is it daniel.
    That’s there favourite line and people want to know why i want to see the warriors fall over because all those wankers who support the whole concept don’t think anyone else apart from them should be able to play the game.
    In the 1970’s television new zealand perceived rugby league as a second class game for second class citizens.
    The rugby league crowd are their own worst enemy and then in the next breath they want to know why they don’t get anywhere.
    Talk about rubbishing their own game.The union crowd never,ever rubbish their own game.

  25. dragons4eva says:

    Hey Daniel,

    In the last day or two there has been a few individuals who have come forward questioning David Niu’s running of the AMNRL, and not in a positive manner.
    Can you shed any light on this? If not or you do not wish to comment i completely understand.

    • druzik says:

      OH… where and what have they been saying specifically?

      I am unaware of anything… no one has said anything to me.

      I’ll see what I can dig up.

      • dragons4eva says:

        Well aparently someone on twitter commented on Niu’s running of the game and there’s been a few comments from different fronts on the issue. Spinner Howland commented on the issue, here’s the link;

        Howland’s comments are on page 3

      • druzik says:

        Right… I Have spoken to Spinner in the past about a few issues, but its by far from what I would call a split. Its like anything, if clubs want changes top be brought in then they speak to the relevant authority… like the clubs in the NRL do.

        Its far from a split.

        Yeah, I saw someone on Twitter come up with a lame twitter name, but as with all these kinds of people, its all talk and no substance, no alternate ideas.

  26. C.T.SANDERS says:

    In rugby league people rubbish anything in reguards to the international development of the game unless their cronies are involved somewhere along the line.Then it’s ok and talk about being biased and one eyed.This happened when the bennet’s were heavily involved in russia when kamaldinov was in power and they could do no wrong in the eyes of their cronies here at auckland rugby league.RRL was very much the flavour of the month from 2004 to 2004.
    Since they are now out of the picture they[the people here] rubbish the usa,russia,south africa or any new horizon because the same old crowd don’t want to see the game grow unless there is something in it for them[money].
    What help do they offer niu now{i don’t think help from down under] yet crowe is the only one willing to venture into america and gets it in the neck for not doing enough and is constantly rubbished yet when i rubbish the adminisrators in the traditional areas of australia,nz and england[when they can’t do their jobs properly] people don’t like it.
    Tough because they bring it upon themselves.
    People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.Administrators especially here in auckland can give out plenty of shit but can’t take.
    Time for new blood everywhere because the game is in a real mess.
    Why would i rubbish people like niu in america who’s trying hard and if he gets something big for the game see who then jumps on the bandwaggon.
    We seen all this before in russia haven’t we??

  27. dragons4eva says:

    Ahh ok…well glad to hear your opinion on the issue Druzik. Hopefully nothing but just a little disagreement, nothing more.

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress | Built by Thinking Cap Studios