Published on April 19th, 2014 | by Daniel Boyle0
Latin Heat to Return to International Competition
The Latin Heat rugby league team, made up of people with backgrounds from across Latin America, will take on Thailand in early June.
Despite being thrashed in their opening hitout against the Philippines, the Latin Heat showed improved capabilities at the Cabramatta International Nines tournament, including their first victory over Japan. Their next challenge will come against Thailand. The match will be played in Windsor on June 1.
“We openly admit that neither side has full-time professional players at present, but the passion is there and every week we take another step in spreading the game,” said Latin Heat director Robert Burgin.
Burgin has stepped aside as coach to let Chilean Ernie Tobar take over. Tobar has history as both player and coach in the junior ranks of the Penrith Panthers.
In order to further develop rugby league culture for each of the countries within the team’s scope, the day before the international match will see a “Copa de Rugby XII”, held at Norford Park in Sefton. Countries are allowed to enter more than one team, regardless of experience with all potential players invited and standouts to be considered for a run against Thailand.
The cup will be open to both male and female players and will be a non-contact event, aimed at attracting new players to the game.
Burgin has predicted Chile have the best chance of winning the first clash between individual countries of Latin America. In an earlier interview on Sport/Life, Burgin said Chile could be an early destination for sending a team.
“Chile is another contender to host games for numerous reasons…it’s the easiest point to fly to from Australia, it’s listed as the safest country with one of the highest income ranges in Latin America, we have a handful of players in the team from Chile and we believe the thirst for rugby union and touch football there shows there would be a market for league.”
In Thailand, a domestic league has begun, with plans for expansion to parts of the country outside Bangkok developing for 2015 and 2016.