Jamaica is preparing to play a first-ever international at home next month, 13 years after the sport was introduced to the Caribbean nation. The historic game will take place on 26 August, against Canada in the Americas Championship, at the University of West Indies in Kingston.
JRLA director of rugby Romeo Monteith commented: “The field is where Jamaica played our first ever representative game, against West Yorkshire Police in 2007. It’s a small, intimate ground on the UWI campus. This is a game that’s long overdue when you consider we have been flying to the USA since 2009 and Canada since 2011.”
Jamaica’s first international was in Jacksonville, a 37-22 loss to America in November 2009 in the Atlantic Cup, the fore-runner to the current Americas Championship. Last week, Jamaica was defeated 48-6 by America in the same city in game one.
“I feel USA was the better side on the day,” admitted Monteith. “We didn’t lack effort, but rugby league smarts and skills were missing at crucial times of the game, they will come as experience builds in our newer players performing at this level.”
The result means that Jamaica need a victory against Canada to have any chance of winning the triangular tournament and Monteith believes his players will be lifted because of the history of the occasion.
“Our rugby league community is buzzing about playing at home,” he continued. “There is a lot of pride in these players and I just think the effort from the team will be tremendous. Canada is a formidable opponent and we know they will bring toughness and a high skill level.
“Home and away matches with neutral referees should be the future of the game in our region, especially the Americas Championship. Hopefully, after the World Cup, Jamaica, Canada and USA can be assisted with this as the potential for growth here is unlimited.”