Cayman’s national men’s rugby squad hit the pitch Saturday (12 May) in preparation for three 2018 Rugby Americas North Championships Regional qualifiers. Head Coach Garry Southway says they’re looking to build on a 2017 season filled with transition.
“Last year was a rebuilding year for us, we lost 12 players from the squad from the previous season through age and injuries.”
Many within Cayman’s Rugby program including Captain Chris Kennedy says they hope to build on the momentum of last years 39-17 victory over Mexico in the season finale of the 2017 RAN Regional qualifiers.
“We are really relying on the younger guys coming through, a combination of youth and guys coming to the island, so finishing strong was a really good start for our season this year.”
Cayman is currently ranked 52nd internationally, and Southway says the Regional qualifying rounds are an opportunity to make significant strides.
“Whoever wins the division that we’re in this year will see themselves playing against teams like Columbia or Paraguay who are ranked significantly higher than us in the World Rugby rankings.
Before Cayman can think about greener pastures, they must do something they haven’t done since 2016: beat USA South. The Americans handled Cayman with ease in 2017 to the tune of a 34-5 loss. Southway says the team ran out of gas.
“We were close at halftime, but I think they just pulled away at the end. They were fitter than us, and they just had more game time than us. It was something that we really struggled with last year.”
Making the next three weeks of training camp against Cayman’s top ‘Selects’ crucial to whipping the team into game shape. Southway says there’s a possible 50-plus qualified players he hopes to shrink to a final roster of 23.
“The selects game is very important for us as a tune up because it’s the closest thing we have to play a very physical almost like an international team.”
Southway adds roster spots are still open for taking.
“There are people outside the squad who could very well force their way in our list of eligible players.”