Rugby League Thrives in Jacksonville with an Axemen Win at Home
During a summer when several rugby league team across the US have been left without a season, there is no sign of slowing down for the Jacksonville Axemen. In their 16th year, the Axemen were back at their home field at the University of North Florida in front of hundreds of fans anxious to get back to supporting Jacksonville’s toughest sport.
In addition to celebrating the return of rugby league in the Bold City, the fans were introduced to the Jacksonville Women’s Rugby League team before the game honoring them for playing the first game of women’s rugby league played in the US. Youth rugby was also a highlight, and the Jacksonville Youth Rugby players took the field during half time to show off what they’ve been working on in their summer 7s program.
The Axemen were looking forward to handing the Copperheads RLFC their first loss of the season however, and the big hits were underway with the Copperheads kicking off. Jacksonville started off hot with the first three tries of the game upping the score to 14-0.
The Copperheads dug in and found some momentum scoring the next two their first try of the game and quickly followed it up with a second. With two good conversions, the score was a tight 14-12 with the Axemen barely in the lead.
With just two minutes left in the first half, Jacksonville scored two more quick tries to widen the lead to 26-12.
The Axemen kicked off to start the second half and although the Copperheads remained brutal in their tackles Jacksonville managed to run away with the score. With a difference of five tries to one in the second half, the final score was 54-16.
Axemen Tries Scored: Washington, Jackson, Eberle, Williams, Bannerot, Wathen, Webb. Findlay was good on 7 of his 10 conversion kicks.
Coach Sean Rutgerson was happy with the win but expects a lot of improvements to be made over the next two weeks. “I’m glad we won our first game in 2 years or however long but I’m disappointed in the number of basic unforced errors we made. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to play them again on July 10th to see if we’ve learned anything.”
Co-founder and general manager Drew Slover was pleased to see the event come together after some additional preseason challenges this year. “Obviously rugby league is strong in Jacksonville from both a player and spectator standpoint. We have a strong base in the organization that continues the success of the team on and off the field. Everyone seems to have missed rugby league since last summer and it was great to play the Copperheads who continue to gain strength as a team in their 3rd season. Our commitment to growing the sport has not wavered and we are dedicated to the success of rugby league in the US.”
Special thanks to the Jacksonville Wolverines High School rugby team for their help with the event, as well as to Jacksonville Youth Rugby. The Axemen hope these partnerships will continue to develop all the teams in Jacksonville and the city will continue to see the sport thrive.
The Jacksonville Axemen travel to play the Copperheads RLFC in South Florida on July 10th and return home on July 17th. The next home game at UNF will also feature Jacksonville Women’s Rugby League making their home debut against the Tampa Mischief. Follow @jaxaxemen on facebook, instagram and twitter for updates.