UNF will host US rugby match against Jamaica


UNF will host a full international rugby game Nov. 14 between the American National Rugby League and the Jamaican Rugby League Association in partnership with the Jacksonville Axemen.

The USA Tomahawks look to square off against the Jamaicans in the first game of what hope soon is to become an annual “Atlantic Cup” that looks to add additional nations in future years. Jacksonville was given approval to host the game after the Axemen submitted a proposal to both teams and the world governing body for the sport, who all agreed to give full sanctioning to the event as an international game, according to the Axemen’s Web site.

“It is important that everyone in Jacksonville understands the full meaning of this game,” Jacksonville Axeman and the event’s coordinator Spinner Howland said.  “It is real international competition that will see the best athletes from each country take the field to do battle under their nation’s flag.”

The event is the most recent in a series of international rugby games held at UNF the last several years, which featured the Russell Crowe-owned Sidney Rabbitohs in 2008 and included appearances by Crowe and the Orange County Choppers.  UNF’s Hodges Stadium is also home to the UNF Rugby Deadbirds and the Jacksonville Axemen.

The Axemen believe that the city of Jacksonville is the perfect place to hold the “Atlantic Cup” for many reasons, Howland said. They see that there is a strong patriotism to the game of rugby in this region. There is a strong following of Rugby League supporters, the Axemen themselves have a growing and dedicated fan base from the four years they’ve been in existence and they believe that will rub off on the “Atlantic Cup,” UNF has been a great colleague of the sport and Jacksonville is an attractive venue location for Jamaica from its geographical location.

“With the match being hosted at Hodges Stadium at UNF, all fans of rugby league throughout the world, in America and the Florida region can once again experience the city of Jacksonville and the first-class event presentation developed by Spinner Howland and the Jacksonville Axemen,” David Niu, the president of the American National Rugby League said.