A new team making their way onto Boston’s sporting map are the Boston Thirteens Rugby League team. Founded in 2009 by Harvard graduate Mik Shammas, they made rapid strides in 2012 both on and off the field and are set for a huge 2013 when the season starts off again on June 1st. They will be aiming to go one better than in 2012 when they were pipped by one try (touchdown) in the USA Rugby League Grand Final, a game they hosted at MIT Steinbrenner Stadium.
Their roster contains a good percentage of guys raised here in New England, with some added quality coming from some imported Australians. One of these imports is captain Dustin Cooper who signed for Boston in 2012 after spells in the top divisions of France, Japan and his native Australia. The Australian National Rugby League (NRL) where he made his name is thought of as the best domestic rugby competition in the world with teams owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch and actor Russell Crowe. Rugby League is huge business in Australia as well as New Zealand, England and France and can be seen in the US on the cable channel Fox Soccer Plus. In the fall the UK will host the 14th Rugby League World Cup with the USA making their first ever appearance at the event. The Boston Thirteens are hoping that some of their domestic stars might be making that trip with the USA Squad. Amongst others, some guys in with a shout of making the trip are Shane Begin, Mike Bozza, Ben Browne and Matt Troila-Kelliher.
Aside from their first team the Thirteens are hoping to start their own minor league competition here in the Massachusetts for guys who are new to Rugby League but keen on trying it out. It’s much more like football than traditional rugby and they have had success in the past in converting guys from football, hockey, lacrosse and track. It’s quite simple once you get on the practice field: like football there are limited downs (6 in Rugby League) before your team kicks the ball. There is no blocking allowed and all passes are laterals. To start the game after each tackle is made the player is possession rolls the ball through his legs (Similar to a ‘Hike’). The Thirteens are confident that if you love football you will love Rugby League! They also play to introduce Rugby League into Middle and High Schools starting this spring.
So if you are a huge Boston sports fan or just curious as to what this ‘Rugby League’ is all about then you should check out the Boston Thirteens this spring/summer. If you can’t wait that long then there is a collection of clips on YouTube from their 2012 season which have been expertly produced!
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