The 16th year of Jamaica’s domestic rugby competition has gotten under way after a two-year break for COVID-19 restrictions.
Eight teams are vying for the men’s national title, two of them newcomers in Portmore Rugby League Club and Young Crocs Academy. It is one extra franchise entering the league than before the pandemic. Young Crocs Academy and Portmore, the newcomers, will bring fresh life and rivalries to the competition.
In the first round of matches, Up Park Camp staged a doubleheader on June 11 with the West Kingston Hyenas beating the debutant Crocs 18-4, Omar Jones and Andrew Hylton both with two tries for the victors. Josshawn Stewart posted the Crocs points late on.
In the later game, JDF Warriors were convincing winners, 44-6, over Liguanea Dragons, centre Ricardo Groves and prop Courtney Dennis each with two tries of their nine scored. In the other round one game, defending champions Duhaney Park Red Sharks were too strong for new boys Portmore, winning 66-16 at Cedar Grove Academy.
Half-backs Adrian Brown, with 24 points from a try and nine goals, and scrum-half Jenson Morris, who scored a hat-trick, were dominant throughout. Ryan Grant and Adrian Thomas finished with two tries each, and for Portmore Reggae Warrior Antonio Baker claimed a hat trick.
The competition culminates in a Grand Final on Saturday, September 17, with each club playing the other once before a three-round playoff system with quarterfinals, semis, and the ultimate decider. In the run-up to the season, Washington Blvd Bulls won the Summer 9s at Cedar Grove, beating the Hyenas 8-6 in the final.
In the consolation final, the Red Sharks edged JDF 18-14. There was also an appearance from St Bess Sledgehammers who lost 16-6 in the main draw semis to the Bulls. The season is even more special as some of these players will be selected for the World Cup squad in October.
Jamaica’s rugby players are set to make their Commonwealth Games and World Cup debuts this year.