Tampa Mayhem Dave Ulch Speaks about His Rugby League World Cup Experiences

You’ve completed the tour and played in two of the three games on the tour, how did Coach McDermott tried to improve you as a player?

Mac has introduced a more tactical and strategic side to League that I’ve always wanted to learn more about. It’s given me a much better understanding, not just from a forwards perspective but from a backs and coaches perspective of the game. So much has been learned from him and the coaching staff that I’ll be bringing back to the states to share.


What did the coach say about your personal performances during the games?

I was given the thumbs up and good effort feedback and to keep up the good work.


The commentators and officials talked regularly about the temperature and conditions; how is it compared to Tampa?

The temperature isn’t all that different to Tampa. The only difference was the sun, in Townsville it was pretty harsh the majority of the time.


How was the intensity of the Italy game, your first appearance in comparison to what you’re used to in the USARL?

The intensity of the Italy game was for sure much harder and faster than our game in the states. We both play footie but for some reason, probably from only just introducing rugby league to America, the game just seems different in so many ways here than back home. The intensity, the speed, the tactics and strategies are all so different. It’s incredible and more addicting to be honest.


The Papua New Guinea experience is one that not many professional Rugby players get to experience.  In a few words, could you express your thoughts on the experience, from the culture to the game itself? PNG again, must have been different than the Italy game?

It’s unbelievable how fanatical the PNG people are for footie. From the moment we landed to when we took off, it was as if we were living as superstars everywhere we went in PNG. The game as an experience was on a completely different level from anything I’ve ever experienced. Every tackle, hit, pass, hit up was accompanied by loud crowd reactions. It’s was an incredible experience but an honor to be playing in front of that crowd.  PNG were a good side; hitting and tackling them is like running into a phone pole. Very quick, fast, and heavy hitters.


As a player from the USARL, what were the key differences besides the Intensity, how different was the speed of your thought processes and so forth?

The biggest difference besides the intensity and speed of the game was understanding the offensive schemes and defensive awareness. Both are much more intricate with their setup and end goal. It makes the sport much more intriguing and interesting to learn and watch; being able to break down the different types of strategies that can be used. It’s great!


In camp, training is effectively full time, what were the fundamental differences between that and your prior experience with the Mayhem?

The amount of training helps so much in understanding and getting everyone on the same page to be effective on the field. Back home, we usually practice 2-3 times a week but going through this makes you want to practice more to create a better product and become a better footie player.


What lessons can this current USA Hawks organisation take forward with them to develop the game further?

I think it’s fantastic that they included so many USA based players because now we can bring back our experience and try to reproduce what we have learnt here to our clubs in the states. This adventure has reinvigorated my motivation and love for this sport; something that can be reproduced with other players in the states.



Building towards 2021 what must the USA Hawks do to strive for better and where do you see the Hawks in 4 years?

For the next World Cup I think that much more effective coaching needs to happen with all clubs and all levels. Another aspect is the financial side of the equation. Seeing here how players get paid to play and still work full time jobs is a lot of athlete’s goal to do. If that happens, you get better athletes and more enthusiasm about being a footie player. I also believe that a youth program needs to be established in order for us to progress and evolve into a top footie nation. It’s a long road but we have to keep the eye on our goals and take the steps to accomplish those goals. One step at a time.


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