Women gear up for Mexico rugby trip

This past week the training roster for the Women’s Sevens national team was announced by Sevens team captain Joanne Ziegler.

The squad is currently in preparation for the NACRA (North American Caribbean Rugby Association) Sevens tournament to be held in Mexico City on November 14-15.

The training roster of 16 included many familiar faces such as Lisa Kehoe, Lisa Bird and Rowena Lawrence while the emerging talents of Kathleen Westin and Chrystal Bush were also invited to prepare for the upcoming tournament.

The talented group of 16 will need to be whittled down to a dozen players by early October as the NACRA tournament only allows for 12 athletes from each nation to participate.

Team coaches Jason Scarff and Phillip Fourie certainly have a daunting task as they spend the next six weeks preparing the ladies for the tournament while also determining which 12 individuals will make the final team.

Coach Scarff said: ‘It is an extremely fortunate position to be in and the strength of the coaching and the women’s program has come leaps and bounds in the past few years.

‘It goes without saying that the players will have to train as they want to play, giving 100 percent all the time. Their attitude towards training/other players/coaches/positive and negative feedback will all be vital.

‘No reputations or past performances will get them there, the next six to seven weeks of training will.’

Along with the regular coaching staff of Scarff, Fourie and Ackerman, the team has been working with sprint training coach Jane Fleming helping prepare the team for what will mark the Cayman Islands first opportunity to compete in nearly five months.

Training has moved to Tuesday and Thursday evenings with the latter focused on the Sevens team development.

Sunday morning fitness training on the beach moves to a mandatory session for the training group which will no doubt support preparation for the two days in 100 degree temperatures Mexico City experiences in November.

The team will continue to focus on their ball handling, defensive organization and communication as well as their offensive strategy for Mexico.

Captain Joanne Ziegler spoke about the next step in local women’s rugby.

‘We are in the fortunate position this year of having a good number of girls who are eligible and available for Sevens and therefore not all have made the training squad.

‘Nevertheless, there will still be the opportunity for those who have not been selected or were not eligible to get a taste of Sevens in the Lime Sevens series.

‘That will be played at the club throughout October as we will have three teams in that tournament (two teams from the training squad and one from the remaining players) who will play each other in a round-robin format.’

Ziegler also feels local women’s rugby is headed in the right direction.

‘Women’s Sevens rugby is definitely a strength of the Caribbean nations due to the natural speed of the players (as evidenced by Caribbean results in the World Track and Field Championships).

‘We are always looking to recruit new players and develop our existing players in order that we can be successful against our fellow nations.

‘Sevens rugby has recently been added to the schedule for both the PanAm games (in 2011 – for both men and women) and the Olympic Games so there are beginning to be great opportunities in the sport.’

The players selected for the NACRA Sevens are another huge stepping stone in the evolution toward building a squad that can compete successfully on the world stage.

This year’s Caribbean Championships (at which the 15s team came second) was a significant rung on the ladder, giving valuable experience to a squad with seven new caps.

The team that represents Cayman in Mexico will likely add another few new caps further strengthening the international playing experience of the Cayman ladies.

For more information on the women’s national team and their upcoming events, please visit www.caymanrugby.com/womens.html.