2011 - Tour of Duty
Throughout the better part of 20 years in developing rugby league in the USA, I've confronted some interesting challenges. Probably none more so then the daunting task of starting something from scratch; with nothing other then a real interest in the sport and a simple desire to give the game a chance in this country. To evolve this basic plan required finding others who shared this interest. To identify and recruit people that would have the drive and commitment to see this effort thought even though we knew the challenges and obstacles would be difficult and many was not always easy. As you can imagine there have been plenty of willing candidates, who have contributed significantly to our growth and are the very reason why we are where we are today. And there have been quite a number over the years who have come and gone with nothing more then a headful of plans that sound wonderful in theory, difficult to execute; and with that challenge, they find fault, lay blame, fade away or hitch their wagon to the next passing parade; big on hubris but little in the way of humility. Recently I was involved in a series of meetings in NYC to further develop our plans for rugby league in the America. It is no secret that I have a desire and passion to see Rugby League takes its place in the USA sporting landscape as a professional sport. The game of rugby league has given me plenty to be grateful for. I'm committed to this effort. In one of our meetings I met with a great rugby league man from Australia who has been very active in the game for many years at all levels, is a successful businessman with a network of contacts in America, and friends with many leading Australian sports and media personalities. I knew he was going to be in the Big Apple on other business and it only made sense to meet with him given our connection via a number of old team mates and club executives. I wanted to bounce off him some of our current and future plans for Rugby League. It was a great meeting. He listened to our presentation and we got some insightful feedback. At the back end of the meeting he asked our group to list the traits that we thought made the sport of Rugby League great and why these would relate to an American audience. These stood out: Teamwork, Selflessness, Discipline, Honesty, Courage, Integrity, Dedication, Passion, Commitment, Humility. He then went on to explain one of the reasons he was in America was to support the 911 Tour of Duty that included members of the FDNY on a 31 day run from LA to NY in remembrance of the 343 fallen firefighters and the other victims of the September 11 attacks. The Tour of Duty run started at the Santa Monica Pier on Thursday August 11 at 8.46am. The exact time that the first plane struck the twin towers. A team of 15 American and 15 Australian runners were divided into 3 teams of 10, running for 6 hours in relay, then 12 hours off. The cycle continued for 24 hours a day until they reached NY on 9/11 traveling 4,600 miles. The meaning of their effort was not lost on me. I could relate to their struggle. I appreciated their desire to push on against significant odds. To finish what they started. No doubt the traits we had mentioned about the people involved in rugby league connected directly to the good men and women supporting the Tour of Duty. The meeting ended and we had a brief chat separately on the busy road way in midtown. He encouraged me to see it through, no matter what the challenges. Surround yourself with good people and good things will happen. That failure was not final. That success will breed envy and jealousy from those who's mission and motive is not in line with your own. Stay the course. He was right.