USA vs. Jamaica – The Interviews

By Daniel Andruczyk

I was able to catch up for a few words from Matthew Elliott, the USA coach, the Howards brothers and Dean Thomas from Jamaica as well as a few words from Davis Niu. It was a historic day for Rugby League in the USA, with the Tomahawks winning through to their first ever Rugby League World Cup. First I spoke with Matthew Elliot, the coach of the Tomahawks:

Rugby League International Scores: Matty, what a wonderful result for the USA team today winning through to the World Cup.

Matthew Elliot: Yeah absolutely delighted for all the guys that have been involved in the AMNRL since the beginning and have had to endure some tough periods. I think today was a culmination of a lot of hard work for the people not necessarily in our camp but who have come here before. In particular David Niu who has been the spine of the sport over here and has been working really hard and this gives him the opportunity to leverage some more involvement from the corporate sector and from players. As far as the group of players we’ve had these 10 day period they were fantastic to work with, it was a delight.

RLIS: How did you find South Africa and Jamaica as opponents?

ME: Well South Africa obviously were a little naïve, they haven’t played a lot of Rugby League, but the Jamaicans the score line doesn’t indicate how tough the game was. It was 6-4 at half time and very physical game. It was a testimony to everyone involved, particularly the Jamaican guys they have come a long way in a short period of time.

RLIS: A lot of fans have been critical of teams like Jamaica, USA, Italy and Lebanon bringing in so many heritage players and not using local players, do you have any comments on that?

ME: Well, I think it happens in all international sport, people talk about that at the Olympics, they’ll talk about that in the Rugby Union World Cup and in the Soccer World Cup, so if someone is going to look for something to whinge about, well then they can take that opportunity, because I’m not really interested in it.

Next I spoke with Dean Thomas the coach of the Jamaican National team.

RLIS: Dean, commiseration on the loss, the first half was very tough and very even and could have gone either way. What do you think was the difference in the end?

Dean Thomas: I think it was that we lost a number of our guys through injury and we had to make do with one fit player left on the bench. The first 10 – 15 minutes of the second half was when we had to do a lot of change due to injuries and that disrupted our rhythm and our patterns and the Unites States took full advantage of that. They were pretty methodical and contained the ball in our half a lot better than we did I think obviously we did set ourselves a goal to try and complete 18 sets out of 20 in the first half if we could have done that in the second half we would have been in with a shout. The second half our completion rate was really poor, making too many errors, too many penalties and too many injuries.

RLIS: So what does this now mean for Jamaican Rugby League

DT: Jamaican Rugby League has now been played on the islands for 6 years, Internationally we have been on the scene, three years. A lot of the teams we have seen have been playing for 10 – 15 years. So we are still infants when it comes to the International Set up, but we’ll learn from this, and trust me we will be back, we’ll improve each year. Its a tough lesson to learn not making the World Cup at our first attempt. But its something us, myself and the board can move forward internationally, and obviously continue to help and develop the game on the Island.

I then was able to catch up with the two Howard brothers, Steve and Danny who have been playing for the USA Tomahawks, both scoring one try each in the match today.

RLIS: How did you find the whole experience guys?

Danny Howard: Great experience, unbelievable week different treatment to anything I have had before. Just great to have the motorbikes and everything taxi us in today and its just a special day to be in the World Cup

Stephen Howard: We’d really like to give a big thanks to David Niu in organising everything, he’s done a fantastic job with the tournament. From day dot when we got here we have been treated professionally and had nothing to worry about and that has had a big influence on the way we have performed and we are really looking forward to 2013.

RLIS: How did you find overall the Jamaicans and South Africans as opponents, playing international Rugby League in general like this?

SH: Yeah really Physical, South Africa Really took it to us. In the first game we ran away to an early lead and that set the platform for the type of game it was. Jamaica put in a really string fight in the first half but fell away a little in the second, they were physical in defence all day and it was a great couple of games

RLIS: So 2013, you going to be there?

DH: Yeah we’ll both be there ready to show the tournament what we’ve got

Last I was able to get a few words from the tournament director and also the head of the AMNRL, David Niu.

RLIS: David, fantastic result for the United States, long time coming, great venue, great setting how’s the whole experience been for you?

David Niu: Its satisfying actually, its been a hard 12 months. We’ve been some stuff that’s made us regroup and re-evaluate where we are going forward but the international program we have kept solid and we are very happy about it

RLIS: So the plans for the next 12-18 months till the World Cup in 2013 , what do the tomahawks do from here?

DN: Mate I don’t know. It’s a tough question right now, I know we have got to do some preparation to get ourselves ready, sit back and see what this really means to us and how we manage our plan here on the ground and get our domestic program in order and get our international program in behind that. There is a lot of work to do but right about now I haven’t given that a tremendous amount of thought. There is some planning given to it but right now we are enjoying this part of it.

RLIS: In terms of the domestic set up, everyone knows about the whole split, what are the chances of the two groups coming together or things being sorted out anything there on the horizon?

DN: Mate I’d like to see what we can do to improve the standard of Rugby League in the area and the country in any way we can. If that means sitting down and trying to work out a plan with people with a like interest then I’m all about that, we’ll see.


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