Cayman rugby’s success in winning the Under-19 Caribbean Championship has vindicated the government for supporting the youth programme.
Public opinion in Cayman is that rugby is not a mainstream enough sport and does not deserve strong government backing. Well Cayman’s success in Barbados has totally refuted that.
To greet the youngsters home at Owen Roberts International Airport on Sunday were Kurt Tibbetts, Leader of Government Business and Alden McLaughlin, Minister of Sport and Education.
‘This is absolutely marvellous,’ said McLaughlin. ‘The development of rugby in Cayman depends on how well the youth do and the government over the course of the last three years has put significant funding into rugby by assisting the Cayman Islands Rugby Union here with an annual grant.
‘And it’s paid dividends which is unbelievable really, in such a short time we’re the champions of the Caribbean. That’s a marvellous, marvellous achievement.
‘Beating teams like Guyana and Trinidad and Mexico with the population the size of Cayman is amazing. The thing is, these are all Caymanian kids so no one can say we’ve imported people which is often an accusation raised in relation to other sports. These are our home-grown boys. I’m absolutely delighted.’
Critics say that rugby is relatively new on the island and is undeserving of significant support. McLaughlin dismisses that claim.
‘I played rugby when I was in high school and rugby’s been around here before that.
‘It’s always been perceived as a ‘white expanse’ sport so it’s great to see that it’s our young men who have come up through the system who have done so well to become Caribbean champions.
‘I think this will have a huge impact on attitudes generally to rugby and hopefully, more and more of our young people will take it up as a sport.