Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk (RL In My Opinion)
On the 15th of May 2021, USARL club the Tampa Mayhem hosted the Tampa 9’s or “Mayhem 9’s” tournament, which saw both men’s and women’s teams take part at Keystone Prep School in Odessa Florida.
The teams that took part in the men’s tournament were the Jacksonville Axemen, South Florida Speed, Roots Family Rugby, the Atlanta Rhinos, the South West Florida Copperheads, and hosts the Tampa Mayhem.
On the women’s side of things, Chicago North Shore, Tampa Mischief, the Jacksonville Chiefs and Roots Family Rugby battled it out for Rugby League supremacy.
Jacksonville took out the men’s tournament, as they look to regain the USARL Championship later this year, and Chicago North Shore would beat Roots Family Rugby to win the women’s tournament.
USA Women’s Rugby League CEO Justin Tucker was heavily involved in the event and has revealed to Chasing Roos just how difficult it was to get up and running.
“As not only the first event coming out of strict COVID related protocols over the last 15 months but the first event ever for US Women's”, Tucker told Chasing Roos.
“It was a difficult task to essentially create not just one pitch, but two to facilitate multiple games being played simultaneously.
“The local volunteers from the Tampa club did a great job getting the site ready to play and every club got involved after the tournament to leave the campus as clean as possible.”
Tucker obviously could not have done all of this on his own, as he received assistance from a very talented group of women.
“The US Women's team got involved with the marketing and running operations on the day of the event.
“Additionally, through a partnership with VX Sports, the US Women's RL launched the first phase of a proof of concept for a fan engagement technology.”
It seems as though this tournament will continue in the future, but not necessarily in Tampa, as Tucker and his team look to branch out and take the nine’s concept on the road.
“I think that 9's is a very marketable form in the American sports market and by nature, it's a festival atmosphere which helps to attract interest.
“The Tampa event is the first step in creating a tour-based model.”
Keep an eye on the USA Women’s Rugby League Facebook page for any upcoming events.
Photography by Bryce Moseley