A young Caymanian is putting the hurt on rugby players abroad.
Robbie Cribb Jr is a fly half for the Tampa Pelicans. He is the captain of the team and an adept penalty kicker.
Cribb Jr recently guided his team to the Florida Rugby Union state U19 championship. His 18 metre penalty kick in stoppage time gave his squad the victory.
Cribb Jr says leading an inexperienced team to victory was incredible.
‘To take a group of boys that had never touched a rugby ball at the start of the season and bring them to such a high level of play that we beat a well organised team in a state final is unbelievable.’
Cribb Jr. says he started playing for the Tampa Pelicans in 2006. At that time he played for the men’s side. His coach told him that an U19 squad would be forming and Cribb Jr jumped on the chance.
The 17 year old is no stranger to rugby. Cribb Jr has been playing for some ten years now, from time he was a boy in Cayman. He says he was drawn to the sport because of the passion players have for it.
‘I love the intensity of rugby. Also playing in Florida, the atmosphere that comes from the sport is unreal. There isn’t a place in Florida now that I can’t find a rugby club and know people in the area.
‘If I were to ever move, I can always find [rugby] friends close by.’
Cribb Jr. has played often in Cayman. His last time competing here was in the summer of 2007.
‘I play hooker for the Cayman U19 national team. I played in the Caribbean Championships last year that was held in South Sound. I plan to participate again in the same World Cup qualifier this summer in Barbados.’
The youngster says he wish he was here for the 2011 Rugby World Cup qualifiers. It is not certain whether Cribb Jr would make the national team though Cayman could have used his tackling and kicking skills against Trinidad recently.
Cribb Jr. says he owes much of his love for rugby and sports to his father. Cribb Jr is the son of Robbie and Paula Cribb.
Robbie Cribb Sr. is President of the Cayman Islands Little League and has always urged his son to be a sporting personality.
‘Ever since I was really young my dad got me into sports,’ Cribb Jr said. ‘He was very competitive when he was young so I guess it would be a bit awkward if he didn’t get me into sports, more baseball than anything else.’
Cribb Jr. admits his parents were a bit put off at first by his desire to play rugby competitively.
‘When I was young it wasn’t much of a problem. Then I started playing internationally and the level of play got higher and dirtier. I guess you could say both of my parents got a little hesitant.
‘However they got over it quickly when they saw that I wasn’t going to stop playing.’
Cribb Jr. says he has not sidestepped his father’s wish to play baseball completely. He is currently studying at Tampa Prep and has got involved in the baseball programme.
‘I play varsity baseball for Tampa Prep. We played for a district championship last week and then move on to a regional tournament.’
Cribb Jr. also expects to be busy with more rugby action. His squad will next play in the South Region Championship being held at Middle Tennessee State this week.
Afterwards, he will put his focus towards college. The young man says he has spoken to the rugby coach at USF and plans to attend the school starting in the fall.
In the end, Cribb Jr. says his father gave him the mindset to not only do well on the field but get through life off of it.
‘He taught me a lot about working hard. He was always hard on me, but it was always for the best. He taught me not to settle for second best, and that’s what I needed.
‘If you settle in life then you won’t get where you want to go.’
Robbie Cribb Jr is a stalwart of the Tampa Pelicans team Photo: Submitted