Sevens squad wins mini-tourney; gov’t supports HK effort

| 02/03/2016
Cayman News Service

Cayman’s Paul Westin passes the ball out against University of Michigan team

(CNS): Ahead of its participation in the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens tournament next month, Cayman’s national team played a visiting squad from the University of Michigan in a mini-tournament this past weekend, winning all of the games against an opposition admittedly tired after a long day’s travel. The Michigan players will get a chance at redemption when they meet the Cayman 15-a-side team at the South Sound pitch on 5 March.

The Cayman sevens team is next competing in the Las Vegas Invitational from 3-5 March, after which the final selection of 12 players for the Hong Kong sevens will be revealed.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Sports has announced it will be supporting the Borrelli Walsh Cayman Islands National Men’s Rugby Sevens team for its participation in the Hong Kong sevens. Many of the players hoping to be selected to represent the Cayman Islands in Hong Kong have come through the Cayman Rugby Football Union’s youth development programmes, which the ministry has supported over the past decade.

Sports Minister Osbourne Bodden recently increased the level of funding to the union, enabling the development of more young Caymanians through the extensive rugby development programmes in the schools and community, and leading directly to the increased successes regionally and now on the world stage.

Richard “Grizz” Adams, the director of Cayman Rugby Sevens, said of the sponsorship: “Minister Bodden, Joel Francis (assistant chief officer) and the ministry have once again come through to support sport in the Islands.

“I am really delighted with the accomplishments of these young Caymanian men. Sixteen years ago when I first started developing the rugby programmes for the Cayman Islands, I was asked by the media what potential we really had to do anything with Caymanians playing rugby and not just displaced expatriates. Having just spent months delivering rugby in several government schools to hundreds of children I believed then what I believe now: in rugby sevens, Cayman can live with the world’s best.”

Adams recounted the progress of the sevens programme, pointing out that U-19 players have won five times regionally and the U-20 team finished 24th in the world in 2009. However, the crowning achievement was last year qualifying for the Hong Kong sevens for the first time in Cayman rugby history.

This latest accomplishment places Cayman among the top 27 sevens teams globally and gives the squad the opportunity to make the top 15 teams in the world in 2017.

“Much of this has been achieved by the vision and belief in well-thought-out, administered, planned and reviewed rugby development programmes by the ministry and ministers as well as sponsors,” Adams added. “The programme and accolades simply would not exist without this forethought and commitment to youth and sport. So, I thank Minister Bodden and his ministry on behalf of all of us.”

Bodden said he was pleased that the rugby programme is continuing to grow under the guidance of the CRFU and with private sector and Government support, calling the team’s qualification for the Hong Kong Sevens “one of the highest achievements in Cayman Islands sports to date”.

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Category: Rugby, Sports

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