Jacksonville Axemen Rugby League

Clarifying the Axemen stance on National Team Selection

The Axemen would firstly like to congratulate Apple Pope who has retained his Captaincy of the USA National Rugby League team.

We would also like to explain and clarify our stance about the recent “eligibly statement” that was released by the American National Rugby League (AMNRL) and appears to exclude any athletes who play for the Jacksonville Axemen, or other United Stated Rugby League Teams (USARL), from being selected for the USA National Rugby League Team. (A copy of the statement is at the bottom of this release)

With ten Jacksonville Axemen players having been in the most recent National Team selection pool, the team quickly advised all players that there would be no ramifications, negative feelings, or retaliation for those players who wished to register as an “at large” player and therefore become eligible for National Team selection. “The Axemen have been able to produce a lot of talented players over the recent years and we are honored to have had so many of our players given the ultimate honor of playing for their country”, said Axemen coach Spinner Howland. “Playing for your country transcends everything else a player can achieve and at no stage will this team stand in the way of any player who wishes to pursue that honor. We are certainly not about to release our star players to teams we would have to play against in our domestic competition, but playing for your country is a dream that so few athletes achieve and we will never let politics or team business operations stand in the way of, or exclude any Axemen from realizing that goal.”

The Axemen released a statement to their playing roster the day the National Team Eligibility Rules came out, letting all players who considered themselves possibilities for selection that they were not only released from Axemen duties but would be supported in their efforts to gain a spot on the national team roster. “We certainly want to make it clear that we consider every player a valuable member of our team, but in the truth that no one player is bigger than the team, we will move on no matter who ends up on our 2011 roster”, Howland continued. “If forgoing one season with the Axemen results in any of our players gaining selection to the USA National Team, I fully support any of them who are selected for any international games that may be scheduled for 2011. We will support them anyway we can and if releasing them from Axemen duties is what it takes, then they have our unwavering support. All our players have been made very aware of our stance and they have all had it clearly explained that there will be zero tolerance for any negativity to players who chose to represent their country.”

The Axemen will hold official training camp and open tryouts on May 6/7/8, and according to team operations no player is considered to have officially signed until that weekend.

This Statement that was released by the Jacksonville Axmeen to the Axemen playing core:

To All Axemen Players, a recent letter from the AMNRL that explains eligibility for National Team Selection appears to make any Axemen (or other USARL Team) player ineligible.

The following is how the Axemen will be approaching this matter. Other USARL teams will approach it as they feel is best for them based on their situation. It is NOT in any way an overall statement from the USARL.

Please let us clarify our position on this for you as Axemen players: The Axemen will never take away the opportunity for you to represent your nation. We do not care about the politics or the “regulations” that the AMNRL has placed on selections when it pertains to your future on the sport of Rugby League.

We are fully aware of what our players must do to be eligible at the moment in registering as an “at large” player. It is our belief that neither the USARL, or the AMNRL, or our teams, are bigger than the sport, and we will never stand in the way of anyone getting to reach the Ultimate Honor of any athlete in playing for the country.

So, if any of you honestly feel you have a good chance of being selected for the USA National team and you are in a position to make yourself available for any international games that may be scheduled during 2011, there will be NO backlash, NO fall out and NO negative feelings from Axemen team or any or our 2011 playing roster. We have stated on a number of occasions that playing for your country is the greatest honor you will ever have and we will NEVER stand in the way of that.

Given that our official training camp will not happen until early May, none of you have signed 2011 agreements with the Axemen at this stage so you are all “at large players”. If you would like to discuss your options with the AMNRL and how the restrictions work, we encourage you to talk to them personally.

If you wish to call Spinner to talk about your options, we have an open door policy on this matter.

Axemen training camp is the weekend of May 6/7/8 and we imagine you will have a good sense as to what you want to do by then for the 2011 season.

We caution and advise you to fully understand anything you are asked to sign, but only you can make this decision. We encourage you to make sure you ask if the restrictions completely exclude you from any Axemen association in regards to training, playing or otherwise being connected to the team.

Again, playing for your country is something that is granted to very few players and on very few occasions, so we will never stand in the way of anyone who may be given that honor.

There will be NO negative ramifications from the Axemen team for anyone who wishes to pursue the greatest honor in any sport.

We hope this clears up any questions that any of you may have been having in regards to this matter. You all have our total support in any decision you make.

Axemen Owners Group

The Initial Release from the AMNRL in regards to Eligibility
David Niu
(856) 448 – 3931
USA Tomahawks 2011 Outlook and Player Eligibility
All USA Tomahawk players will be chosen who satisfy the following:
For purposes of this rule a “National Team Event” shall mean any officially sanctioned AMNRL National Team (i.e. USA Tomahawk) game, practice, training camp, press conference or other event involving the U.S. National Team. In addition to abiding by all AMNRL rules and policies with respect to player insurance, waiver forms, nationality requirements etc., all players must meet the following criteria in order to be eligible to participate in any National Team event:
1. Be registered to play with a club that has been approved by the AMNRL to compete in the
2011 AMNRL season or;
2. If the player is not a member of an approved club, upon separate application to the league
and after the league’s approval, be registered as an AMNRL “At Large Player”.
Under no circumstances will any AMNRL player who is registered with a club in the AMNRL for the 2011 season or an approved At-Large player be permitted to practice with, play with or in any way be connected with or hold themselves out to be connected with any other league or competition that plays the game of rugby league in the United States which has not been officially sanctioned by the AMNRL. Any breach of this rule will revoke a player’s eligibility to participate in any National Team Event.
All determinations surrounding player eligibility under this rule shall be made by the AMNRL.