Junior rugby up and running

The rugby pitch in South Sound has seen better days. Hurricane Ivan’s visit last September left behind a sandy and leafy scorched-earth scene nearly devoid of life.

But there was no shortage of life Saturday as the Cayman Islands Rugby Football Union kicked off its junior programmes for 2005. Some 100 boys and girls turned out forthe numerous age-group training sessions. The sport’s leaders are high on the prospects for 2005.

‘We still exist,’ said an upbeat Derek Haines, president of the Rugby Union. ‘Apart from the view, nothing is missing. Hey, we are the only rugby club in the world with its own petrified forest. We can offer eco-tours now,’ he joked.

‘To see this many kids out on the pitch is very uplifting,’ he added.

Richard Adams, Cayman’s technical director and national coach, is also enthusiastic about the coming months. ‘We are not being held back by the hurricane,’ he said, ‘in fact, it may turn out to be a plus for us as some sports are not back yet so we might see some new faces out here and get them hooked on rugby.

‘This year we have expanded so that we don’t have weakness in our junior programmes,’ Adams added.

Currently, Cayman rugby offers programmes for ages three through 16 years of age. The more demanding Academy programme is for under-18s.

Adams says rugby will be back in the schools this year and will now reach a new high of 2,800 kids. The rise is due mostly to a new emphasis on females. John Gray and George Hicks schools will have girls’ programmes for the first time ever in 2005.