Despite a disappointing 2011 season, the Boston 13s are anticipating a breakout year with a new international coach and players as well as a strong domestic talent-pool.
With several new and exciting personnel changes, the Boston 13s hope for a big turnaround from last years’ 2-6 season. The club, a founding member of the USA Rugby League (USARL), will face seven other elite east-coast teams in the 2012 USARL National Championship. New coaching staff, international players and returning domestic talent promise to make for an interesting and anticipated comeback.
At the forefront of those changes is the acquisition of a new head coach. Details have yet to be publicly disclosed, however Mikhael Shammas will be stepping aside as coach to focus on his role as the club’s President, his roles within the USARL and facilitate the growth of NAMOA [North American Match Officials Association]. Shammas confirmed that a professional Rugby League coach from the U.K. has been recruited to champion a newly forged coaching department for the Boston club. An official head coach announcement can be expected in the coming weeks.
Another big shakeup for the 13s is the strategic decision to recruit international athletes, in contrast to their position on this in 2011. The addition of two players, Trent Pirihi and Reymark Medina-Berkin, from Australia and New Zealand respectively, will increase playing experience on the 13s’ roster. These additions will also further facilitate the underlying domestic development of the Boston-based talent.
Drafted via Scrum Nation; a Melbourne-based rugby league academy, both Pirihi [back-row forward] and Berkin [full back] have graduated the academy as standout players and students in 2010 and 2011. Scrum Nations’ mission is to provide young men aged 13 to 19 with rugby league coaching and technical skills, as well as access to community role-models and education-based packages on healthy lifestyles, nutrition and positive life choices. Partnered with the Victoria Police Rugby League Club, the academy provides players with lectures on issues affecting and challenging young men in today’s society. This mission is synonymous with the 13s’ own core values of leadership, commitment, camaraderie and consciousness.
“It is with great honor and privilege that we have the opportunity to work closely with Scrum Nation and their vision of merging sports with active social responsibility,” said Shammas. “Irrespective of the geographical distances between our organizations, the B-13s are excited to receive Trent and Rey for the 2012 season, and know they will become true ambassadors of the club; both on- and off- the field.”
Due to the coaching change, the official team roster for the 2012 club has not yet been set and the British head coach will lead this charge upon his arrival in early April. To start the process, the 13s will host open tryouts on Sunday, April 15th. Tryouts will begin in the morning with an intensive assessment of core skills, players’ strength and conditioning, and offensive and defensive capacity. There will then be break for lunch and a video session, before an additional on-field assessment of players’ teamwork, team strategies and techniques in the afternoon. Upon the conclusion of tryouts, only the top 25 players will be selected for the Premier Side. A Reserve Grade roster will be created for players not in the top 25; and a dynamic system of player promotion and relegation between the two squads will be managed by coaching staff to ensure elite performance throughout the season.
Many former players are keen on returning for the 2012 season. The 13s’ 2011 award winning players, whom maintain first-right of refusal to return to the club, include Drew Shalian [the “Fifi” Award], Dustin Ward [Iron Man award], Austin Chappell [Leadership Shield] and Steven Davy [Presidential award]. Niko Lehman-White, who won the 13th Warrior Shield for 2011 MVP, will be gifted jersey number 13 for the upcoming season in tradition with the highest of the club’s perpetual awards.
The Boston 13s will kick off their season on June 2nd against regional rival Oneida FC of Cambridge. The match will also represent the first of a three-game annual series, “Battle of the Charles”, which the 13s won 2-games to-1 last season.
Fans should also keep an eye out for the Title-Town Cheerleaders, who will be performing at all home games, as well as making appearances at all major team functions and events.
For more information on the Boston 13s RLFC, click here.