Community club rugby league returned to Jamaica for the first time in over two years with the playing of the Rugby League Jamaica Summer 9s at the Cedar Grove Academy on Saturday.

Nine community teams participated, and Washington Blvd Bulls came out winners with a hard fought 8-6 win over West Kingston Hyenas in the final. 

The tournament saw two new teams make their rugby league debut, Portmore Rugby League Club and Young Crocs Academy.

Young Crocs made it all the way to the main draw semi-finals before losing to the Hyenas 1-24, meanwhile, Portmore did themselves proud by advancing to the consolidation semi-finals before losing to Duhaney Park 16-18. 

The other teams in the tournament were Liguanea Dragons who lost 8-20 in the consolidation semi-finals and St. Bess Sledgehammers who lost 6-16 in the main draw semi-finals to the Bulls. 

In the consolidation bracket final Duhaney Park Redsharks edged the Jamaica Defence Force Warriors 18-14

Director of Rugby Romeo Monteith commented on the restart of domestic club rugby league.

"The rugby league family is overjoyed to return to community play, this game means a lot for the physical and mental wellbeing of so many and it is good to be back playing," Monteith said. 

"It was a great turnout of community teams, match officials and fans and we hope to build on this momentum as we look to launch our National Club Championship on June 6," he added.

The Jamaica Rugby League Association is set to officially restart national training for domestic players, after getting the green light from the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM).

The permission is timely as the Reggae Warriors are set to participate in the Rugby League World Cup in England at the end of 2022, and its domestic contingent has gone over 18 months without matches.

Plans are in place to have the maximum 50 male and a similar number of female players chosen, with two representative squads for each to then be selected under the Parish of Residence (POR) banner.

Team Red will feature players mostly residing or playing for clubs, colleges and universities in Kingston and St. Andrew whilst Team Blue will be made up of players mostly living in or playing for clubs, colleges, or universities in St. Catherine and other parishes.

Strict ODPEM Covid-19 protocols will be followed at all sessions and games. A total of five matches are expected to be staged from April to September, Covid conditions permitting. All players and officials must be vaccinated or undergo testing before each session.

“We would like to thank both ODPEM and the Ministry of Sport for the hard work being done to give National Governing Bodies the green light to return to some activity. Massive credit goes to our vice-chairman Adrian Hall who spearheaded our bid to return to train, it’s been an agonizing wait,” said JRLA Director of Rugby Romeo Monteith.

“Our rugby league community has been devastated by the long absence from playing and at least now our national players can officially resume preparation for the World Cup and other international events we are planning for the year. We continue to ask our wider members to be patient and exercise good judgement as we await further improvements in the health situation and a return to community and school rugby league.”

Jamaica played unbeaten on their way to winning the 2021 Fireminds Rugby Americas North Sevens in the Turks and Caicos Islands on Sunday.

As they set out on the final leg of their Olympic journey, the Jamaica Football Rugby Union (JFRU) is expressing appreciation for the unrelenting support provided by the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA).

The Jamaican government will provide more than JMD$45 million in direct financial support to athletes preparing for this summer’s Tokyo Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.

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