Rugby League Atlantic Cup
|Sport||Rugby league football|
|Number of teams||3|
|Holders||United States (2011)|
|Most titles||United States (2 titles)|
The Rugby League Atlantic Cup is an annual rugby league football tournament held in Jacksonville, Florida. Initiated in 2009, it is hosted by the Jacksonville Axemen rugby league team at Hodges Stadium on the University of North Florida campus.
The 2009 and 2010 Cups were co-sponsored by the American National Rugby League (AMNRL), and pitted the United States national rugby league team against other developing rugby league nations in North America: Jamaica and Canada. In the 2011 edition, the Jacksonville Axemen faced the Helensburgh Tigers and British Police rugby team.
The origins of the Atlantic Cup go back to 2006, when the American National Rugby League (AMNRL) planned a tournament as part of an intended qualifying bracket for the 2008 Rugby League World Cup. However, this first contest, between the United States and Japan national teams, did not go as planned.
In 2009 the AMNRL returned to the idea of an international game in the hopes of making it an annual event. Together with the Jamaican Rugby League Association (JRLA) and the Jacksonville Axemen AMNRL franchise, they organized a single test match between the United States and Jamaica national teams, to be called the 2009 Atlantic Cup. The game, which was organized by the Jacksonville Axemen, was held on November 14, 2009 in Jacksonville, Florida, at the Axemen's home field, Hodges Stadium at the University of North Florida. The game was Jamaica's international debut, and ended in a 37-22 victory for the United States. The game drew around 3,500 spectators, and was deemed a success, and the organizers made plans to expand the tournament the following year.
The 2010 Atlantic Cup was also organized by the Axemen at the University of North Florida. Canada joined the competition, and the Cup was expanded from a single match into a three-game round robin tournament. Super League referee Phil Bentham refereed all three matches, which were held on November 16, 18, and 20. The United States won both of its matches, and was declared champion for a second year. Several thousand spectators attended the tournament, with the final match between Canada and the United States drawing 2,800.
The Atlantic Cup was an attempt to attract the qualifying bracket for the 2013 Rugby League World Cup to the United States. When the U.S. won the bid to host the qualifiers, it was rumored that the tournament would be played in Jacksonville. AMNRL president David Niu expressed hope that the annual tournament will be continued beyond the World Cup. However, the AMNRL decided instead to submit a bid for the tournament to be played in the Philadelphia area.
In 2011 the Axemen left the AMNRL to join the newly formed USA Rugby League, taking with them the Atlantic Cup. As a result, the 2011 tournament did not feature the United States national team, which is administered by the AMNRL. The 2011 Cup featured the Axemen in a round-robin tournament against two invitational teams, the Helensburgh Tigers from Australia and the UK Police Rugby League Team.
|Year||Host nation||Participating nations||Winner||Runner-Up||Venue||Total attendance|
|2009||United States|| United States
|United States||Jamaica||Hodges Stadium, Jacksonville||3,500|
|2010||United States|| United States
|United States||Jamaica||Hodges Stadium, Jacksonville||4,100|
|2011||United States|| United States
|Great Britain||Australia||Hodges Stadium, Jacksonville|
- Helensburgh Tigers to contest Atlantic Cup rleague.com, 15 November 2011
- "USA Tomahawks and Japan Samurais to Battle for Atlantic Cup". American National Rugby League News. 2006. Retrieved December 13, 2010.
- "USA National Rugby League Team to Play a Full International in Jacksonville, Florida". rlef.eu.com. Rugby League European Foundation. September 25 2009. Retrieved December 13, 2010.
- Brian Lowe (Nov 14, 2009). "USA beats Jamaica". Americanrugbynews.com. Retrieved December 13, 2010.
- Matthew Wicks (November 20, 2010). "Atlantic Cup Rugby Tournament". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved December 13, 2010.
- Brian Lowe (November 20, 2010). "USA Wins Atlantic Cup". wearerugby.com. Retrieved December 14, 2010.
- Steve Mascord (November 16, 2010). "League World Cup to break new territory". sportsnewsfirst.com.au. Retrieved December 14, 2010.
- Brian Lowe (December 6, 2010). "Reaction To RLWC Qualifiers". wearerugby.com. Retrieved December 14, 2010.
- Caplan, Phil (August 4, 2011)."Venue announced for 2013 World Cup Atlantic Qualifiers". rleague.com. Retrieved September 26, 2011.
- "Atlantic Cup returns to Jacksonville for the third straight year". jaxaxe.com. Retrieved September 26, 2011.