Axemen Optimistically Moving Forward in 2021
Without a doubt 2020 was a disappointment for most people and although the Axemen organization hoped to salvage some sort of event for rugby league it wasn’t in the cards last year.
While the team wasn’t able to engage in formal training sessions, a large group of local players continued socially distanced training sessions throughout the summer under the guidance of Coach Sean Rutgerson. Players throughout the south came together for a friendly game in early September in Tampa, FL and the event featured many newcomers to rugby league.
“We still worked hard last summer and a lot of new guys showed up for training as well as women interested in playing rugby league,” said Rutgerson. “We trained for about 8 weeks learning the basics and were able to take those skills into the game in Tampa. The women were also able to do an inter team scrimmage here in Jacksonville.”
As 2020 closed into the last few months the momentum slowed and the Axemen chose to let the past season go and switch focus to 2021. Here’s what Axemen fans have to look forward to:
“As of now, we are planning for a full 2021 season,” says Drew Slover, Co-founder and general manager of the Jacksonville Axemen. “The USARL annual meeting is set for later this month and as far as the South teams are concerned, we are ready to get back to the swing of things by the normal season start in May. There still may be some changes from years past due to COVID-19, but we are optimistic we can safely have a full season.”
The USARL is also pleased to announce a new team has formed out of the Miami Area, the South Florida Speed. With the exception of 2020 this will be the 3rd consecutive year a new team has joined the South, and the Axemen are excited to see the sport growing in Florida.
Coach Sean Rutgerson is also looking forward to getting back into a normal schedule for 2021. “I was impressed with the dedication the players had last summer despite having no season. I look forward to having formal training sessions again and expanding on our work last year.”
Typically the Axemen start the season off with a weekend training camp around the end of April, and the team is hopeful this can stay on schedule.
“Of course everything depends on how under control COVID-19 is in our area,” says Slover. “We are optimistically but cautiously planning for our 2021 season, and will keep fans posted as the year progresses.”
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