Cayman has gained enormous respect

Jubilant Cayman Under-19 skipper Daniel McGrath feels that they were the most organised team at the Caribbean Championships in Barbados which helped them to win the tournament.

Cayman beat Guyana 21-13 in the first game, drew with Trinidad 5-5 and thrashed Mexico 21-3 in Barbados.

‘I think as we progressed in the tournament we finally started to get our form and bond more as a team,’ McGrath said. ‘Once we tied with Trinidad we realised we had the chance to do something that’s never been done before in the Cayman Islands – to compete on the world stage in a team sport.

‘We bonded together and put all our efforts together in our training.

‘We’ve been together for three years now, it was our third championship together and compared to other teams we were the closest.

‘This team has gone to school together and played rugby the last four years together, so I think it does help when it comes to tough matches. The bonding helps us propel ourselves which is what we did, win the tournament.’

After a short break the hard work starts again.

‘We’re going to prepare for the World Trophy in April,’ said McGrath. ‘The venue hasn’t been decided yet but over the next few months we’ll be having International Rugby Board staff training, people sent down to prepare us for the tournament.

‘We’ll probably go away and play other teams close by and do training camps. The World Trophy is an 18-team tournament which will be including teams like Georgia, Romania and USA.’

At no point before the Mexico game did Cayman assume they were easily going to cruise through despite beating the Mexicans 21-3 this time last year.

‘We went into the game against Mexico thinking we shouldn’t be complacent and assuming that we’re going to beat them,’ said McGrath. ‘Sport’s an amazing thing and there’s always going to be off days. But we did go into the game knowing we had the advantage of beating them before.

‘We were the strongest looking team in the whole tournament. We just put together all our tools that we’d worked on which helped us win.’

Daniel’s father Donald said: ‘This is an astounding achievement for a country like this to come from such a small island and achieve such a great result.

‘The boys worked hard for it all year, worked with the coaches, had a great game plan and obviously it all worked out for them.’

Neither Donald or wife Florence are particularly sporty. ‘We live near the rugby club and Daniel goes down there almost every day. They really bring the boys along and look after them.

‘They have a lot of hard work to do between now and April and I know they’ll be meeting with their coaches soon.

‘But he is a student so he still has that to attend to. As long as he keeps his rugby after school that’s fine by me. I think the boys should be very proud of themselves. It’s their effort, them on the field, wonderful job.’

Graham Thompson, team manager, said: ‘This was a huge effort by the guys, coached by Richard Adams. They were by far the best team in the whole tournament regardless of any score and they just played awesome every game.

‘Rumour is that the next tournament is in the Cook Islands, which is for the Second Division teams and the winner of that moves into the top 16 and plays for the World Cup in the Under-20 division.

‘We’ll probably have to win all our games but if we win two it will be a great effort for the Caribbean and Cayman too.

‘We’ll give them a couple of weeks off because they’ve done so well here and then we’ll get right back at it.’

Novice full back Guillaume Hammersley grabbed 18 points in the tournament, Cayman’s highest.

He said: ‘This is my first year playing rugby competitively and it’s pretty tough getting into a new sport, new rules, completely different set of parameters.

‘It was a pretty good experience. I’ve never been able to go abroad to play sport competitively. I really enjoyed it immensely. Great experience.

‘Our full pack was bigger than most full packs of the other teams. We had a little more structure, because we had Grizz coaching us, obviously.’

Hammersley has been featured in this paper for his sailing ability. Is this going to overtake sailing as his No.1 sport? ‘Oh yes, this is definitely my priority now. Definitely, rugby is the way for me.’

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