New challenges vs old challenges

The 2011 USARL Championship Grand Final was heading for a clash with Hurricane Irene in the days leading up to Saturday Sept 27.
New challenges vs old challenges

On Friday, the day preceding the Championship, it was decided to bring the match forward from 3.00pm to a 2.00pm kick-off to avoid the wrath of Irene.

It would also give the Philadelphia Fight's traveling competitors, New Haven Warriors, a chance to leave Philadelphia earlier and return to the threat that Irene was looking to create further north in Connecticut. The Warriors braved the conditions, both in Philadelphia and the 3hr 40min drive back, to hopefully find their homes and families safe.

Irene provided stormy conditions for the match which developed into heavy down pours during the fixture. The weather kept the crowd down to 150-200 enthusiastic, cheering and screaming fans when the final quarter of play came about. The game, locked at 26 a piece in a wet, slippery and difficult environment, finally forged out a winner with the Fight narrowly sealing the match in the dying minutes after a 2-point penalty conversion.

The conditions and toughness of this final Championship match also, and ironically, reflected the difficult and tough decisions that led to the beginning of the USARL earlier in the year. It also capped off a successful 8-team inaugural competition that saw all fixtures completed and only 2 points separating the top 3 teams at the end of the regular season.

The Championship match also reflected the challenges that a new organization has to prevail with to be successful. A small step in a different direction could have lead to a very different result. In common, the USARL have taken many small steps during 2011 with a result of 8 successful clubs, each with an agenda to build a stronger platform for the development and sustainability of Rugby League in the USA.

Examples can be seen particularly with the Rhode Island Rebellion promoting their club and Rugby League via television and radio and with scheduled activities for high schools. The Jacksonville Axemen have successfully nurtured 3 development teams and are hosting teams from overseas later this year in Florida. The Washington DC Slayers are also planning on hosting visiting teams from the UK and NZ in the new year.

Members of the USARL Board of Directors were on hand during the Championship match to watch the culmination of an exciting season with an exciting game as a climax. Their focus now is to meet in September to reflect on and smooth out the structure and look forward to strengthening their position in offering an excellent and attractive product for the future.