Jacksonville Sports News, Sam Kouvaris - SamSportsline.com

Australian For A Day

I’m sitting here watching the Championship games in the NFL and really enjoying it. Good games, both of them. But I’m also interested in the upcoming Rugby League game scheduled for this Saturday at UNF. The South Sydney Rabbitohs will face the Leeds Rhinos in what they call a “friendly” in soccer.

My long-time friend Spinner Howland is the driving force behind this match and I’m glad to see his dream come to life. Plus it’s a great thing for the city. These two teams aren’t just showing up to play a game on Saturday. In fact, they’re both already here, practicing and bringing a lot of publicity to the city.

The Rabbitohs are a resurgent team in Rugby League in Australia. Actor Russell Crowe bought the team a couple of years ago and has brought them back to championship form. When he was in town promoting the event he said he didn’t realize how much the Rabbitohs helped shape his personality as a young boy.

“They were the guys who did things right, and won,” Crowe explained. “They hung around after games, signed autographs, talked to people, were part of the community. They did it right and I wanted to bring that back.”

South Sydney is staying at the beach and enjoying every minute of it. Although the weather hasn’t been conducive to surfing, a couple of the Aussies on the club are waiting for their chance.

Leeds is a global powerhouse when it comes to Rugby League so their mere presence will bring attention to the city and the game. Plus Australia’s Channel 9 is showing the game live back in Australia (and providing it live for whomever wants to take it.)

The two teams are practicing all week and there are a couple of events that are open to the public. “The people here are so friendly,” one of the visiting players said on Saturday. “It’s hot at home so the change of climate is taking a little getting used to,” another noted pointing out it’s summer in the southern hemisphere.

They’ll have some good weather here this week and a little rain won’t bother either team a bit. The game is a full celebration of Australia Day as well so no doubt there will be plenty of fun had by all.

I don’t say this often but: Buy a ticket.