By Matthew Brown, Date:11/2/14
This year of 2014 has started somewhat with a flurry of internationals! The first occurred on the Gold Coast in the Sunshine State of Queensland where the Latin Heat (Team representing the Latin American nations of Central & South America) took on the Philippines. The next international occurred in Sydney when Japan took on the Thailand Stars at Redfern oval in Sydney! This also coincided with the Cabramatta International 9s in Sydney’s Western suburbs at New Era Stadium where teams representing Japan, Fiji, Cook Islands, Portugal, Greece, Thailand, Niue, Canada, Latin America and the Philippines contested the tournament!
Latin Heat vs Philippines 18th January 2014 @ Runaway Bay, Gold Coast.
The Latin Heat made their international debut against the Philippines. A strong crowd of about 2000 people came to watch the Heat take on the Asian champions! There were samba drummers, live music and an exotic feel to the game itself! The crowd was right into the match until the very end even though the game was one way traffic. The game ended 116-0 for the Philippines, although a few things need to be mentioned.
This was the first international for the Heat and some of the players had only handled a Rugby League ball for less than 6 months. The Philippines had been preparing for the match for a while and many of their players were NSW and QLD cup quality and had been preparing for the match for the past month. The Latin Heat squad had only 1 or 2 training sessions together before the match. This did not hurt the spirits of either team as both the Latin Heat and the Philippines loved the match and the significance behind the fixture. The Latin heat boys played with passion and at the post-game drinks, it felt as if they had won the match because all of them loved just playing for the Latin Heat and Rugby League!
Japan vs Thailand Stars, Redfern Oval January 30th, 2014.
Japan took on the Thailand starts at Redfern oval. I did not personally attend this match but from all reports the Thais were dominate throughout the match! The Japanese, who have been involved with RL since the 1990s were defeated by a side that are only less than 18 months old, however the Thailand players had a lot of Australian based players of Thai heritage! What was promising was that the Thai consulate Theeratep Promvongsanon watched the match which could help give great promotion to the Thais back in the Kingdom of Thailand!
The final score was 46-10 to Thailand.
Cabramatta International 9s, 1st February 2014 @ New Era Stadium.
The Heat, as well as the Japanese and the Thais participated in the Cabramatta 9s. This is an annual tournament where NSW Cup teams play against various international sides. This year saw countries such as Japan, Fiji, Cook Islands, Portugal, Greece, Thailand, Niue, Malta (Heritage), Canada, England (Exiles) Latin America, Marist Saints (NZ RL club) and the Philippines participated in the tournament which was great to see! So in all there were 13 international teams participating in the tournament!
During the day I was based with the Latin Heat (team representing Latin America). They lost to Portugal 14 to 6 in their first game and narrowly lost to the Philippines (Red) 12-10. In the final group game, the Heat defeated the Japanese 22 to 8 which was greeted with great cheers from the Heat fans and team! Unfortunately the Heat lost their final game to the Greeks 18 to 0, however like the Philippines international, the players and people a part of the side did not mind. They had secured their first victory and performed admirably during the tournament! The side also received coverage from SBS Spanish which helped further promote Latin American Rugby League to the RL community!
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.253567484812822.1073741844.173861682783403&type=1 (Photos of the Heat at the 9s).
The finals resulted in these results!
Bowl Final: FT – Hills District Bulls 24 def. Niue Development 8.
Plate Final FT: Burwood North Ryde United 12 def. Niue 10.
Trophy Final FT: Canada 12 def. Cabramatta Two Blues (2) 4.
Cup Final FT: Auburn Warriors 14 def. Philippines 8.
Although only 1 international team won one of the finals, it was great to see international teams in each final! The Cabramatta 9s are a great day out if you like Rugby League and a great way to see International Rugby League in a carnival atmosphere!