The Cayman Rugby Union has announced that the Cayman Islands was successful in a bid to host the 2011 Rugby World Cup regional Qualification tournament. The competition will come right on the heels of the 2007 U19 world cup qualifier that was held here with great success in June.
The tournament will take place between April 19th and 27th, 2008 and as many as three hundred and fifty players, officials and coaches are expected to attend in the form of eleven international teams that will include Mexico, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, St Lucia, St Vincent, Guyana and British Virgin Islands showcasing both the Cayman Rugby programs and the Cayman Islands themselves as a sports tourism destination.
The Cayman Rugby Union is delighted with the decision of NAWIRA and the IRB.
‘I am delighted with the news, it is very unusual that a country would be awarded two world cup tournaments in a row and just goes to show what a marvelous job we did with the U20’s in June and just how much the International Rugby Board and the North American West Indies Rugby Association believe in our rugby program’s here and the boost that hosting such tournaments brings to a nation in terms of development and publicity both locally and globally,’ said Technical Director Richard Adams.
Union President Derek Haines added: ‘In light of the fact that we are launching the Maples and Calder community rugby program in the new year, the timing of these championships could not be better, as they will offer us an opportunity to bus these boys and girls to the games and let them see top international competition, live, right on their own Island. The Maples and Calder program will deliver professional rugby training Island wide to boys and girls aged from ten to sixteen right in their communities. We would also hope to generate much needed revenue for our many and varied youth programs through these championships. Everything seems to be more expensive these days, we as a Union and concerned members of the community, invest close to two hundred thousand dollars into our youth programs each year and any opportunity to generate money for these programs is always a huge positive for the communities, the youth and the Cayman Islands in general.’
It is expected that the winner of the tournament will go forward into a secondary Rugby World Cup tournament with the winners of regional tournaments from the other five regions worldwide in a similar move to that made by the IRB with the U20 World Cup last year. The decision for qualifying is awaited from the IRB. The Cayman National team training will commence in earnest in January 2008 when National team captain John Wagner and National coach Richard Adams will start to formulate the teams strategies and tactics for the upcoming tournament, they will be greatly assisted by the mass of excellently talented players that have emerged from the Maples and Calder and Cable & Wireless national academies as well as the HSBC schools program over the past few years. Emerging sevens players such as Keswick Wright, Shaun Gerard and Jon Doak will also add great talent and speed to the local squad.
The 2007 Rugby World Cup finals proved just how global the sport has become with staggering statistics across the globe, 2.2 million tickets were sold for the final round matches, but perhaps most impressive of all were the four billion viewers who tuned into watch the 2007 Rugby World Cup finals just two hundred thousand viewers less than the last FIFA world Cup.
The Cayman Rugby Union will be offering sponsorship and corporate hospitality packages shortly to businesses and individuals across the Island. The packages are expected to contain opportunities for marketing through internet streaming of the matches, the tournament program, local and West Indian television, local media and local radio as well as hospitality opportunities during the matches themselves. The Union is also seeking a national team sponsor and tournament sponsor for the event and expects that interest will be high on the back of the massive success of the RWC 2007 in France.