Prior to Cayman’s National Men’s Rugby 15s historic 58-14 win over Guyana, we spoke with Rugby Americas North (RAN) Regional Training Manager Scott Harland to discuss the sport’s growth around the region, and the world.
JA: How does Rugby Americas North view Cayman on the global rugby scale?
SH: “I think Cayman is a great example of a small country that can have a big impact in a region. Considering their population, they’ve been a star performer for many years, qualifying for Commonwealth Games, Hong Kong Sevens. We see them as a focused group that can make things happen.”
JA: How about hosting? Is Cayman seen as an ideal ground for hosting events?
SH: “In terms of hosting, they’ve often hosted some of our better events. Big match fever takes over in Cayman. We get a good crowd, great atmosphere, like at South Sound. We look forward to them hosting one of many international events each year.”
JA: Where does rugby 15s lie versus the sevens format in the region in terms of popularity?
SH: “We still believe rugby is a game for every shape and size, and for every type of person. That’s the 15s game. Sevens is really for athletic speedsters. It’s a beautiful game to watch. It does a lot to bring attention to the game, it’s in the Olympics. We value, and these countries value, the 15s game because you see size-on-size, size-on-not-size and all those mismatches that make the game exciting. Sevens is where we see the growth of the game because we are getting so much of a television profile. The World Sevens Series is exciting, and makes for good highlights. It is a matter of can those players fit into 15s.”
JA: How fast is rugby growing? Where does it lie in the realm of sports tourism around the world?
SH: “Even if we just look at the Caribbean, the Barbados Sevens, they offer tens of thousands of dollars raised by the tourism community. They know that having 40 or 50 teams hang out on the beach is worth it for them to support. Rugby is drawing that kind of attention. We just had a beach rugby event in Florida that drew great attention, television interest. I think sports tourism is going to start looking at rugby in a very different light, especially with touch rugby, and touch beach rugby. The Caribbean will benefit more than many parts of the world. The World Cup in Japan is an example. They bid a lot of money because they know hosting rugby brings great tourism.
Note: RAN announced Wednesday (13 February) that Cayman would host the Men’s and Women’s RAN Sevens 2020 Olympic Qualifier 6-7 July at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex.