Axemen look to build successful season
with training camp momentum
It had been over a year and a half since the 121 Financial Jacksonville Axemen had an official practice, so the 2021 Training Camp was a highly anticipated event for organization. The excitement in the air was palpable, with more than 40 men and 20 women participating in the 3 day training camp. Rugby League season in Jacksonville is a huge part of the summer and it was clear the sport was missed during the peak of the pandemic.
Without a doubt Coach Sean Rutgerson had been missing the team as well, and he quickly put the player’s through the paces after a year off. “I’m really happy with how the whole camp went,” says Rutgerson. “Along with our core group from 2019, we saw a lot of new faces and it’s good to see there is an interest in the sport. We still have some more players to come in, but the turn out overall was great.”
“I’m also really happy with how quickly the women picked up on the training and fit in right away. It’s not easy training with the men, and I wasn’t sure about how the contact would go, but they had no issues with it and all three teams trained together.”
“We still have a lot of fitness to work on, which we will continue on into our regular training schedule and throughout the season. Overall everyone had a great time, I know I did, and I can’t wait to have another great Axemen season.”
Axemen training camp has been a part of the organization since the start, and is a important test for fitness, skills, and mental toughness. For the first time, the camp included not just the men’s team, but the newly formed women’s and master’s team for players 35 and older.
After a Friday night fitness session, the players returned for a full day training session on Saturday. With focus during fatigue an important skill to learn, the players’ endurance was put to the test late on Saturday afternoon.
The camp continued for a third day with a beach session where players started to really feel the effects of the 2 previous days of training. Even with some soreness setting in, all the players had a great attitude and pushed through until the end, even with Coach Rutgerson’s grueling “games” in the sand.
Axemen Co-Owner and General Manager Drew Slover sees this momentum from a successful training camp to move forward with a successful season. “Obviously with being unable to play last year, and with Covid-19 still an issue we’ve had some challenges to work through when preparing to come back for our 2021 season. But- we’ve been around for 16 years now, and we are confident that the standards and structure we set in place leads to success both on and off the field.”
“It was great to have the team back together and the addition of the women’s team has been refreshing. Everyone has a great attitude and I see the organization going forward with a successful 2021 season. We’ve got our team back together, now all we need is to be back with our fans for the Axemen to be complete. We can’t wait to see everyone back at our home games this summer.”
The Axemen will take part in the first annual Mayhem 9’s tournament on May 15th in Tampa, featuring the official kick-off of women’s rugby league in the USA. Jacksonville Axemen home games are played at 6pm Saturdays at the University of North Florida. Stayed tuned for an updated schedule release and season tickets to go on sale this week.