USA Rugby League

By Brian Lowe, Date: 22/3/19

In this, Part 2 of our look at the USA national team’s all-time records, we continue to break down the all-time statistics from when they were the Tomahawks to now as they are the Hawks.

To briefly recap what was covered in Part 1, there were several name changes to the game’s national governing body between 1987 and 2001 when it became the American National Rugby League (AMNRL).

That NGB remained in control of the game in the US until 2014 when the USA Rugby League (USARL) took over as the officially recognized governing body. The USARL had previously broken away from the AMNRL in 2011 to form its own competition.

From 2011 through 2013 there were two separate leagues, and each crowned a national champion. It all came under one umbrella again in 2014.

Until 1993 there wasn’t a whole heck of a lot going on with the national team other than an appearance at the World Sevens tournament in Sydney as the American Patriots in ‘93. After that, however, the team started to compete internationally on a more regular basis.

The Tomahawks got things rolling later on in 1993 when they faced Canada in the inaugural Can-Am series Test match and won 32-2.

In 1994 they played a handful of games against the Canadians and Russia, before stepping things up in 1995 with no fewer than seven international matches, which for an American team back then was unprecedented.

From 1996 to 1998 it was slim pickings in terms of Test matches, but in 1999 the US had a fuller international schedule mainly due to Rugby League World Cup qualifying. After knocking off Japan and Canada in early games, the Tomahawks came undone against Lebanon and missed out on a trip to the big dance.

2000 saw the Americans beat Ireland in the annual Donnybrook Cup game, as well as notching another triumph against Canada in the Cam-Am series but were smashed 110-0 by England in an unofficial RLWC warm-up game in Orlando, Florida.

If that had been an officially recognized Test match it would still stand as the USA’s biggest ever official loss, but it wasn’t, so it doesn’t.

Between 2002 and 2006, the Tomahawks played several internationals every year and then in 2007 they had another crack at qualifying for the World Cup but again came up short, this time against Samoa in a match played in Widnes in the UK.

2009 saw the establishment of the Atlantic Cup, a series between the USA and Jamaica. It was expanded in 2010 to include the Canada Wolverines. 2010 also saw the Can-Am series renamed the Colonial Cup.

The Tomahawks had what was arguably their breakout year in 2011 when they easily handled Jamaica and South Africa in the RLWCQ series in Philadelphia to advance to their first World Cup in 2013 where they got as far as the quarterfinals.

En route to the Cup, the US beat France in a RLWC warm-up game in Toulouse.

In 2014, the US played its last match as the Tomahawks when they defeated Samoa in the Ohana Cup in Honolulu. They finished their reign with an overall win-loss record of 35-22.

Since mid-2014, the team has been playing as the USA Hawks and as covered in Part 1 of our review of the national team then and now, it has an overall record of 8-7.

While it’s difficult to rank one team against the other, as it’s much like comparing apples and oranges, considering statistics for the purposes of analysis may be the best option.

The Tomahawks had their best run in the World Cup year of 2013 when they strung together six consecutive wins. That season opened with a loss to Canada in the Colonial Cup in Toronto, but from there it snowballed.

The US rattled off three straight victories against the Wolverines, before going on to beat France, the Cook Islands and Wales. They finished their RLWC campaign with losses to Scotland and Australia.

Their worst run of outs happened in the 1995/96 seasons when they were on the losing end of the scoresheet seven straight times. Donnybrook Cup defeats to the Irish Wolfhounds bookended losses to Wales, Cook Islands, Scotland and Russia.

The Tomahawks’ biggest official win was a 78-6 belting of Japan in 2003 and conversely their heaviest official loss was a 92-4 pounding by Wales in 1995.

As for the Hawks, their longest winning streak so far is five games. In the 2016/17 seasons they knocked off Canada three times and the Jamaican Reggae Warriors twice.

On the flipside, their longest losing streak is three matches and that has happened twice. The first time was in 2014/15 when they had just started playing under their new banner. All three losses were to Canada.

It happened again at the 2017 RLWC when they dropped all of their pool matches to Fiji, Italy and Papua New Guinea.

The Hawks’ biggest official win to date is their 62-0 thrashing of Chile at last year’s RLWC qualifying series in Jacksonville, Florida. Their biggest official loss so far is the 64-0 drubbing by the Kumuls in Port Moresby.