Ireland and USA Media Releases – Pope on the DBC and Strategic Plans

From the USA and Ireland Media

Today two press releases from the Irish and USA. I am on the road at the moment and so articles and my replies will be sporadic till Friday when I will start coverage of the Donnybrook Cup with the press release at 1 pm.


The USA Tomahawks resume their international rugby league schedule this coming Saturday when they take on Ireland in the Donnybrook Cup in Philadelphia.

The American National Rugby League team once again will be captained by Apple Pope. It will be his fourth straight Test as Tomahawks skipper and he’s pleased as punch to be given the nod.

“Being named captain of the USA is an amazing honor and a bigger achievement than I ever imagined possible for myself,” Pope tells WeAreRugby. “Being selected team captain now for the fourth time is a great feeling and really lifts my confidence knowing I have earned the continued respect of the coaching staff and players.”

Saturday’s Test is the first match of what will be a busy season for the US. Following the Irish game, the Tomahawks are scheduled to play Canada twice in an expanded Colonial Cup series this summer, before they host Jamaica and South Africa in the Rugby League World Cup Atlantic Zone qualifying series in the fall.

The winner of that RLWCQ series earns one of only two berths still open for the 2013 World Cup in England.

Pope will be taking an unbeaten 3-0 record as US captain into this weekend’s match against a relatively inexperienced Wolfhounds team, and while victory #4 would be nice, he says it’s not the most important thing.

“Another international win would be great, but the real goal is to continue our team development strategies, build team chemistry and do the things necessary to put ourselves in a position to be competitive during the WC qualifiers later this year,” says Pope.

“What the Irish lack in experience I think they’ll make up for with excitement, pride and determination to represent their country in the USA on St Patrick’s Day weekend.” And as for what he thinks about the Tomahawks’ squad, well, he reckons it’s pretty darn good.

“I think a great squad of quality athletes were selected for the Donnybrook Cup and I’m really excited to get to work with all the new faces and playing styles,” adds Pope. “Team chemistry may be a challenge as I have never played club footy with any of the players in this selection. All the new Tomahawks selected just shows the number of quality footy players here in the States and our
selectors’ determination to locate and develop these talented guys.”

The match is set to kick off at 4p EDST on Saturday, March 19th. For more information on venue, hotels and tickets please visit

Brian Lowe, Director of Media & Communications. WeAreRugby


The USA Tomahawks and Ireland Wolfhounds squads will both assemble in Philadelphia Wednesday in preparation for Saturday’s Donnybrook Cup rugby league international.

The Wolfhounds arrived in Philly Tuesday night, while the American players fly in from all parts of the country on Wednesday morning.

Both countries named their 17-man rosters last week – the USA side contains seven new faces and 10 returners from the team that won the Atlantic Cup in Jacksonville last November.

Four of the Tomahawks hail from Hawaii including Kelly McGill, Mike Tuala, Andrew Malafu and Sione Taufa. McGill, Tuala and Malafu are all first timers and were all identified by USA assistant coach and team manager Jack Breen, who’s based in the islands, while Taufa played in the Atlantic Cup and scored his first international rugby league try in a winning performance against Canada.

Among the players coming back from the triumphant Atlantic Cup effort are skipper Apple Pope, Conway Maraki, Mike Cartwright, Nate Smith, Andrew Kneisly, Mike Brazill, Curtis Cunz, Sean Taylor, Gareth Baxendale and Taufa.

Pope and Maraki in particular played huge roles in the Tomahawks’ victories in Jacksonville and will be looking to resume that stellar form on Saturday.

And one other player of note is big second rower Salesi Tongamoa. From New York, Tongamoa has played for the New York Knights and New Haven Warriors in the American National Rugby League and is now based in Atlanta. He’s expected to prove quite a handful for the Irish.

Ticketing and hotel information, as well as interviews with players and coaches and other info on the teams and the fixture can be accessed at

Brian Lowe, Director of Media & Communications, WeAreRugby


Building towards a World Cup

Rugby League Ireland (RLI) today announced details of a new strategic development plan as they continue to build towards the Rugby League World Cup in 2013.

Working closely with the Rugby Football League (RFL), a thorough review was undertaken of all RLI operational processes starting with the domestic game and extending to the national Wolfhound Senior team.

The new strategic plan will see a unified coaching and operational strategy deployed at all levels of the game in Ireland. This will further assist the development of domestic Irish Rugby League players whilst ensuring that all representative teams are suitably prepared to deliver results on the national and international stage.

Rugby League Ireland will, therefore, advertise the position of Head Coach with responsibility for all representative teams, for developing and delivering a Coach the Coaches program in Ireland and for developing and maintaining a performance pathway for domestic Irish players. It is expected that this appointment will be made in the near future and will extend up to and including the World Cup in 2013.

Irish Rugby League has continued to grow over the last ten years, with provincial leagues and representative teams now established in Leinster, Munster and Ulster and with an Ireland Student team, made up of domestic Irish players only, participating in the Student Regional Tournament every year . Much of the development over the last 10 years has been spearheaded by the Wolfhounds Senior coach Andy Kelly and his management team who helped steer Ireland through a phenomenal 2008 World Cup campaign.

The Wolfhounds emerged as one of the undoubted success stories of the tournament reaching the Quarter Finals and qualifying out of what was widely regarded as the ‘pool of death’ with Samoa and Tonga. That terrific campaign by ‘Kelly’s Heroes’ saw Ireland reach their highest ever seventh place, in the Rugby League World Rankings.

RLI would like to recognise the hard work and success of the Senior Management Team over the last 10 years. Andy Kelly and his team leave behind a legacy of success that will prove invaluable to Rugby League Ireland in its efforts to grow and develop the game in Ireland. The board owes a huge debt of gratitude to Andy and his assistants Barrie McDermott, Terry O’Connor and Mike Callaghan who were all instrumental in helping Andy produce those teams that were so successful in Australia and elsewhere.

For  further information please contact Conor Kelly on



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