Cayman Rugby has a tall task ahead in the summer of 2019.
As the Truman Bodden Sports Complex are set to play host to the Rugby Americas North (RAN) Regional men’s and women’s 7s qualifier held 6-7 July, Head Coach Jovan Bowles will aim to narrow down his roster over the next two weeks from 45 to 12 in an effort to gain entry to the XXXII Olympiad Tokyo 2020 which takes place 24 July through 9 August, 2020.
“We are looking for the desire to be better not only yourself, but for your country,” said Bowles. “A willingness to understand the structure that we’ve been working on for the last six weeks, and the correct decision making that not only benefits the individual but the team as a whole. Those are simple three principles are going to take us a long way. The next two weekends are a great opportunity for us to repetitively go through our system.”
However, winning first overall and advancing will be no easy task. Group of eight includes world 11th ranked Canada, Jamaica, Guyana, Bermuda, Mexico, Trinidad & Tobago and Barbados. Cayman Rugby has brought in former South Africa 7s national and Commonwealth Games gold medalist Frankie Horne to help guide the amateur based team to an improbable victory.
“Rugby is not their main priority, it’s all working class,” said Horne. “I’m here to help educate the guys on the grand scheme, to try and put the fundamentals in the basic stuff in place. It’s all the same at the end of the day. Bouncing the ball, and hopefully, the boys can play, and keep themselves in the game, and put themselves in a position to win. It’s going to be a tough ask, Canada are regulars. They’re going to vie for the top spot, but if we do little things right, we might have a fighting chance.
Making his third international appearance as Rugby Sevens captain is Robbie Cribb. The Savannah native is confident the team can advance to at least the World Rugby Olympic Repechage tournament due to take place in June 2020 where twelve teams comprised of the next two highest ranked based on 2019 regional qualification will compete.
“We’re not going into this expecting to do bad,” said Cribb. “Four years ago, in the same tournament North Carolina, we eventually qualified for Hong Kong. We are expecting to at least be competitive going into day two. On day one, it’s pool play. We’re going to use day one as our warm up, and going in day two, we will be looking to make it to the finals ideally against Canada.”
Compounding the task at hand is the National Men’s 15s inaugural appearance at the Americas Rugby Challenge in August. However, Bowles says regardless of the small talent pool requiring an estimated handful of sevens players, he is not concerned with the quick turnaround.
“In your classic rugby world, transitioning from 7s to 15s is a lot easier from transitioning 15s to 7s. The twelve that do eventually represent us will all be available for the Americas Rugby Challenge, conditioning and fitness won’t be any issues. Regarding game pattern and understanding of the game, that will be a quick transition because a lot of them have been in the system for a long time.”
View the entire schedule here.
2019 RF Group RAN Sevens Teams
6. Trinidad & Tobago
7. Cayman Islands
2. Trinidad & Tobago
4. St Lucia