Written by Stuart McLennan
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in downtown Cleveland, Ohio documents the history of rock music and the artists, producers, engineers, and other notable figures who have influenced its development.
Cleveland was the location of disc jockey Alan Freed’s Moondog Coronation Ball, often credited as the first major rock and roll concert.
Former Toronto Wolfpack trialist and Red Star Belgrade player Monte Gaddis is pioneering another form of recreation in Cleveland with rugby league and he wants to ‘shout it out loud.’
Cleveland rugby league has only been in existence for a short time however the club has a roster, regular training sessions and has already played a match against established side the Nova Eagles from Northern Virginia.
Despite losing the exhibition match against Nova 72-18 Gaddis knows its all about the long game.
“We have a side ready for 9s or a full 13s side. The club is also in talks with players overseas that would love the opportunity to come across the pond and play some footy,” Gaddis revealed to Everything Rugby League.
“Even after the loss, it was a win for the club, the players and the executive staff. We made history by organising the first ever Rugby League match in the city of Cleveland, Ohio. We had fans come up to learn the game, new players from Rugby Union playing, drone footage, action pictures and even fed everyone with sandwiches and beer. This was the best event I’ve been a part of.”
Making inroads into the United States with rugby league is seen by many pundits as very difficult in a crowded market. An injection of a large amount of funds is considered a necessity. Converting even a tiny percentage of American sports fans would be a huge win.
“I believe Americans can and will catch on and enjoy Rugby League more than Union because League is similar to American Football. We as Americans love fast paced, hard hitting players and a game that is easy to follow and understand,” Gaddis said.
“America is the ‘show me’ country, money attracts all fans and supports all games. Rugby League needs an investor that will help with that.”
Cleveland executive staff member Brady Payne is full of praise for Gaddis who still has designs on carving out a professional playing career.
“Gaddis has learned how to treat and talk to his players and staff. Playing both in England and Europe, Gaddis has shown the great traditions and cultures of Rugby League. His trainings are a mixture of Shaw Cross (Monte had a stint with the Sharks in 2017) and Red Star Belgrade. Being a player/coach, Gaddis knows how to be the player and knows their wants, and also how a coach should talk and interact with the players.”
With Monte seeking to secure a professional contract, the club is on the hunt for a new head coach while working on building a strong platform.
“The short term goals for Cleveland Rugby League is to make sure we have a solid foundation with the organisation, making sure everyone is moving in unison. Right now we are partnering with local businesses, in talks with local sponsors and getting our kit all in order.
“This has been a tough but fun process building the club from scratch and doing all the grass roots of it. In the future we will be working to have a women’s side and also some youth training to start them off young.
“We actually are in talks with an Ontario Rugby League club who would love to visit after restrictions decrease. Another thought was being a curtain raiser for the (Ottawa) Aces and Wolfpack would be a great idea and help people see the game in all perspectives.”
Given the drive and ambition behind Cleveland rugby league, the city might have a shrine to the greatest game of all as their next cultural attraction. At the moment the ‘good vibrations’ prevail.