Young champs defy the odds

Cayman Islands rugby is flourishing to such an extent that it is quickly gaining respect not just in the Caribbean but around the world.

The Under-19 side retained the Caribbean Championship and regional title over the weekend.

Three months ago Cayman’s youngsters played in the World Rugby Trophy and although they lost all their games considering they were facing nations that have hundreds of thousands of players to choose from, did well.

Retaining the Caribbean and regional title by beating Jamaica and Mexico in the final confirms that Cayman is the feared nation now.

The rugby club at South Sound was packed on Saturday as Cayman’s Robbie Cribb kicked all the points in their 18-8 win over Mexico.

Led by captain Daniel McGrath, the whole team played superbly throughout, particularly James Geary, Brian Martins, Ed Westin, Michael Wilson, Joel Clarke and Matthew Hale.

Technical director Richard ‘Grizz’ Adams said: ‘It’s a phenomenal achievement, two in a row in a very difficult age group. This has been a long, long year. A lot of hard losses and difficult experiences but it all came together today.

‘It was great to have such a big, vocal crowd. So many people have been starved of a big win and the Caribbean Championship has finally come home.

‘I don’t know what the Mexican game plan was but ours was to keep them in their own half, keep possession of the ball, frustrate them, they’d give us penalties and we’d get the points. And that is exactly how it went.

‘Mexico are a good side, very well drilled, good defensively and tough.’

They’re not sure what tournament is next because the format has been changed, but Grizz and coach Stephen Clarke believe they will do well.

‘I’m extremely happy with the players,’ Clarke said. ‘It was a great performance from the tackling and commitment point.

‘We’ve worked at this for a number of years and got a great group of young guys, very committed, very passionate who played against a very good team in Mexico.

‘We had two teams today nervous of making mistakes. That’s why finals are often different from other games. We kept them in their zone and Robbie was such a great kicker that you could put that pressure on.

‘The rucking and mauling was superb. Garrett in the line outs took great balls. It was a really great team performance.’

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