Rucking little stars

Cayman’s rugby scene is thriving
thanks mainly to the excellent youth programme it installed after Hurricane
Ivan hit in 2004.

The rugby pitch in South Sound was
so badly damaged after Ivan that speculation was it would take years for the
emerging junior programme to reach its full potential.

But outsiders did not reckon on the
strength of will of people like rugby association president Derek Haines and
technical director Richard ‘Grizz’ Adams and the rest of the rugby fraternity.

By 2008 the Under-19s were
Caribbean champions and the smallest country to go to the Under-20s World Cup
finals last year in Kenya. That young side is maturing into a formidable team
who are now focused on senior tournaments.

Additionally, the schools programme
is producing the next generation of stars.

There are 20 to 30 primary school
children training at the rugby club every Saturday morning, girls and boys and
there is also the academy on Tuesdays and Thursdays which focus on individual
skills.

One of the Saturday morning coaches
is Alasdair Robertson who has two sons in the programme. He said: “It’s popular
and getting more popular. The wonderful thing is we now have an international
programme when we play Bermuda every year in May and we’re training these guys
up to play an international.

“How many sports do you know that
you can play an international at Under-10s?

“The older guys, obviously, won the
Caribbean Championships and our challenge is to keep that up.

“The earlier you can play, the more
instinctive you become. And the whole emphasis for these guys is the Olympics
in 2016 when they’ll be right in the zone. When they get to age 20 hopefully
some of these guys will be able to play in the Olympics.”

Robertson is pleased that girls are
getting into rugby too. “Rugby is not just a man’s sport, it is for both men
and women. For both the World Cup and the Olympics it is men’s and women’s and
with any luck Cayman will have both.”