Big moves ahead in Cayman rugby

The Cayman Rugby Union has its sights on a record-breaking second half of the 2006/2007, says technical director Richard Adams. Over the next eight months, as many as four major competitions are set to take place. Fijian sevens expert Venasio Tokatokavanua is back for another six months of coaching. In addition to that, a community rugby program expert is likely to be headed here in the next few weeks if negotiations go well. He will launch the Maples and Calder Community Outreach Program that the Union hopes its 2007 sports grant will help cover as well. On top of all of this the Union has committed to increasing its school delivery program, improving upon the national team and national academy programs and having a women’s national team to compete in the Caribbean Championships later this year. The International Rugby Board has also topped up the 2007 grant in recognition of the progress of the sport here in Cayman.

Fijian Sevens expert Tokatokavanua will commence delivery of the HSBC school training programs on Monday January 15th as well as the Maples and Calder National Sevens Academy program and the Bmobile men’s National sevens program. Venasio will be concentrating on getting the Bmobile men’s national sevens team ready for the upcoming Cable and Wireless and Heineken Summer sevens series of rugby that is set to begin on February 10th and the Heineken sevens as well as the impending Caribbean championships to be held in the Bahamas this November.

Several of the Maples and Calder Academy players are expected to be key components of this team. He will also be recruiting HSBC school program players to join in with the Maples and Calder community outreach programs that are due to be established in February 2007 throughout the Island as the Cayman Junior Rugby Development Fund strives to make the sport of Rugby available to youngsters island wide.

The Union is also in negotiation talks with a former Canadian National Women’s Team coach and highly skilled community and club coach to work in Cayman setting up the Maples and Calder Community Outreach Rugby Program as well as women’s community programs, girls community programs and a National women’s team. He will also work with the National men’s team and U19 National team.

‘We have been working at this for some six years now,’ said Technical Director and National Coach Richard Adams. ‘Funding is a critical area and today we are seeing more and more private entities coming forward to back the excellent work that we have been doing and continue to do. We are also seeing increases in our grants as the programs prove themselves to be very popular to all of Cayman’s residents and schools. We have worked very hard to increase our revenues so that we may continue to develop at the junior levels and have a strong program for the foreseeable future.

‘Venasio did an outstanding job for us last year in the HSBC schools programs, with the Maples and Calder sevens Academy and the Bmobile national sevens program, so when the opportunity came along to have him back for six months we jumped at the opportunity and I look forward to the great improvement he will make in all of these programs.

‘We have delivered the HSBC in school coaching programs for five years now,’ Adams continued, ‘and last year we reached over 2,500 different school children which was a fantastic achievement. However, you have to realize that with just one community program running in the South Sound community the vast majority of the children we are coaching in the schools do not get the opportunity to play in their communities. Fortunately for us, Maples and Calder immediately saw the need for local boys and girls to have such an opportunity and have stepped in with financial support to at least start this process. We hope that our sports grant will be increased in 2007 and with this we will be able to recruit the personnel and equipment that we need to run this program effectively setting up community programs and National competitions across the island.

We are talking with a highly qualified individual from Canada who has been delivering these programs for a long time and he is very interested in bringing that experience to Cayman. He also has vast experience with the women’s game and development and as such would be charged with the same here.

‘We are looking forward to some excellent rugby right here in Cayman this summer,’ said Adams, ‘and seeing our teams on show in front of we hope large partisan spectators. In May we have the Diamond Law Associates International series planned and are in talks with Cuba and a super league team from the states. In June we hope to host the Cayman Sevens at the South Sound Ground for the first time with ten world class teams. In July we have been awarded the IRB U19 Regional World Cup Qualifiers and expect as many as ten international U19 teams to participate. Lastly in August we have been awarded the Men and Women’s Caribbean XV a side championships and expect as many as ten men’s teams and as many as six women’s teams to participate. We hope to have our very own Cayman women’s team take part in this tournament.

‘With all of this I hope that you can see why the development and funding of these programs is so important, I hope that by the end of 2007 you will be able to drive from Rum point to Papagallos and see Rugby being played in all of the communities.’