Updated: Jan 16
Rugby League Jamaica (RLJ) kicked off its 2023 calendar of events by staging its annual New Year 9s tournament at the University if the West Indies last Saturday. The day featured three categories, Mens Open, Women's Open and U19 Academy Open.
West Kingston Hyenas Men
West Kingston Hyenas emerged as winners of the Men’s category that featured 10 teams.
The Hyenas defeated the Jamaica Defence Force 8-4 in the finals to claim their first ever Rugby League Jamaica title. In the third-place play-off, the Duhaney Park Redsharks defeated Washington Blvd Bulls 12-4. Other senior teams included Liguanea Dragons, Caribbean Maritime University Spartans, Portmore Rugby League Club, Duhaney Park Firestorms, Spanish Town Vikings and St Bess Sledgehammers.
Winning coach Robert Hawes said, "We are happy for the win, we are growing from strength to strength in rugby league. We are looking forward to the other rugby league events in the year and this is a great achievement for the youths and our community. We are really motivated to move forward as a club and we will continue to build the sport with the RLJ."
St Bess Sledgehammers U19 Academy
History was made with the staging of the first ever club Academy U19 9s. Seven team registered to play but both CMU Spartans and Duhaney Park Redsharks withdrew late. St Bess Sledgehammers emerged as champions, defeating Liguanea Dragons 24-8 in the final. In the third-place game, Cedar Grove Cyclones B defeated Cedar Grove A 16-12, whilst Washington Blvd Bulls finished 5th with a 12-8 win over West Kingston Knights.
The man pioneering rugby league in St Elizabeth and coach of the victorious team Kamar Findlay said, " Our boys are excited in winning this inaugural tournament. Most of them also play U19 for BB Coke High and would have lost that 9s tournament, therefore, winning this club 9s is a somewhat of redemption for them. They remain highly motivated and the entire community is proud of them."
In another historic first, Duhaney Park Redsharks and CMU Spartans featured in the Women Open category with the Redsharks taking the spoils.
Wining coach Jade Harris said,"The ladies did well, they are coming together and growing from strength to strength. Some are new to the game and some have rugby experience. Overall it was a successful day and we look forward to the remaining activities for the women's program throughout the year."
According to Rugby League Director Romeo Monteith, "It’s a good start to the year, the tournament was a success in all areas, most community teams came out with both senior and junior teams and have set the tempo for the year. After losing out to the Bulls in the RLJ Summer 9s last year, it’s fantastic to see the Hyenas claim their first rugby league title and speaks to the competitive nature of the short version of the sport. Amongst community teams."