Photo credit: Allene Rachal
The heads of the United States and Canadian rugby leagues are stressing the importance of the newly announced men’s international in Las Vegas in March.
The Hawks and Wolverines will renew their rivalry on Friday night, March 1, in the lead up to the NRL 2024 season-opening doubleheader at Allegiant Stadium the following day.
While the test match will be played during what the NRL is promoting as a ‘festival of rugby league’ which will include a 9s tournament, it is separate to all of that and is sanctioned by the International Rugby League (IRL) so it will carry international rankings points.
Canada Rugby League Association (CRLA) president John Cameron says that from his perspective, he sees the international game as having a higher priority.
“The NRL was a big proponent of the 9s tournament, but both the US and Canadian national teams wanted our finances directed towards an international – one that contributes towards our rankings, where a 9s tournament would not,” he tells Rugby League Planet.
“However, we are supportive of the 9s tournament as it allows men who didn’t make the team, or women, to play in competitive games especially during a time of year when it’s challenging to play in Canada!
“Our Ontario Ospreys will be attending and likely another one or two teams as well. We think the more people participating, overall the better.”
His sentiments have been backed up by US Association of Rugby League (USARL) Inc. interim chair Drew Slover.
“I agree with John that this will be a big deal for both teams,” he says.
“I also think this game is going to be a great opportunity for us to showcase the game to a new group of potential fans.
“With all the rugby league going on in Vegas, I think our game will be a great lead into the Saturday games.
“I’m hoping that this can be something we can continue playing every year.”
The US has a 22-7 all-time win-loss record against Canada although the last time they played was in Tampa, Florida, in November of 2022 when the Wolverines came away victorious.
The Hawks are currently at #33 and the Wolverines are #46 on the IRL’s world rankings list.