Jamaican Rugby League is ready to host Tests in the country, as well as competing against some of Europe’s best nations after qualifying for the World Cup for the first time.
That’s the view of long-serving forward Ross Peltier, who was at the heart of the Reggae Warriors’ success last week in beating Canada and the United States to ensure qualification for the 2021 tournament in England.
Having achieved the impossible with minimal funding – and with the squad self-funding their trip to America for the qualifiers – Peltier believes that the increased RLIF revenue which comes with qualification can begin to open exciting new paths for Jamaican rugby – which should include games both on the island and elsewhere.
“The dream is to play some Tests there in Jamaica,” Peltier told League Express.
“In the past, none of us British-based lads have been able to get there in the season, but now we’ve a World Cup to look forward to we can look ahead with excitement.
“That funding is going to go a hell of a long way for Jamaican rugby. It opens the door for us to go and have camps there, and help train up the domestic lads. They’ve been doing it off next to no funding, and producing excellent talent. The funding means as much as the World Cup does.”
Peltier also believes qualification will have a major impact on the Jamaican communities in England too, and hopes more players decide to sign up for the Reggae Warriors’ cause now there is a World Cup on the horizon.
“I think it’s bound to happen that a few who’ve wondered about doing it in the past, now do,” he said.
“Some quality additions will always great but I think the core group will stay the same because we’ve achieved something special. It can only be a good thing to have more players interested, though.
“There are a lot of Jamaican people in Yorkshire alone, then you start to look at places like London, and Jamaicans have a national team that are competing at a World Cup. The new athletes you could attract from this is huge, and you could start to build the next crop of Jamaican rugby players off the back of it.”
Peltier also hopes there are more opportunities for the Jamaican side, as one of the best emerging nations in the world, to take on teams closer to home between now and the World Cup.
“Games against Ireland, Wales and Scotland here in England would be great,” he said.
“Let’s show the appetite for Jamaican rugby in this country is here, get a couple of thousand to a ground and starting having new nations playing each other on a regular basis.
“When we heard that it would be self-funded, this trip, we didn’t worry about it for a minute. Guys like Joel Farrell were getting offered money to go and play for Scotland but instead, they spent their own money helping Jamaica qualify. It shows the journey we’re on.”