Maples sevens look well set

The Maples national rugby sevens
academy travelled to Wilmington North Carolina to participate in the Premier
Division of the Cape Fear Sevens. Cape Fear is renowned for hosting elite level
teams comprised of the world’s top World Sevens Series players and this year
was no exception.

The Maples Academy players are
putting together their final preparations for the Central American and Caribbean
Games Rugby sevens and the Pan American NACRA qualifier games which will be
held between 21-31 July in Guyana.

Part of the Cape Fear preparation
was the visit of USA national assistant coach Drew Fautley two weeks ago who
made some subtle changes to various aspects of the teams’ tactics
and strategies.

The matches in Cape Fear will also
be used by Canada’s national sevens coach Morgan Williams who will be in Cayman
to work with the squad 16-18 July. USA national sevens head coach Al Caravelli
was on hand in Cape Fear to watch the Cayman players and offer feedback to the
team as well as report to Morgan on where the team needs to improve further.

In their first game Cayman drew the
tournament favourites the Pacific Island Barbarians. The Barbarians comprise no
less than eight players who have represented USA, Fiji, Samoa or Tonga in the
World Sevens Series as full professionals in the past twelve months.

The Islanders went out to a lead of
10-0 at half but Cayman clawed back through a try of their own early in the
second half to be 10-7 down. Cayman then scored again to take a 12-10 lead
before the Barbarians scored at the death to take the win 15-12. In the second
game of the day Cayman faced the Kenyan Exiles comprised of Kenyan players from
the World Sevens Series or other world sevens series players with Kenyan ties
and now living in the USA. The Kenyans scored four unanswered tries before Cayman
came back with two of their own to finish the game 20-12 down.

In game three Cayman faced
Charlotte who also had a number of USA World Sevens Series players on their
squad and Cayman lost 22-5. This left Cayman facing the Barbarians again in the
cup knock out round on day two in the straight knock out competition.

The Barbarians proved too strong
again, winning 15-5. The Barbarians went on to beat Nova in a thrilling, hard
paced and tough final 26-24 with no less than 12 of the 14 players on the field
coming from the world sevens series.

The LIME national sevens team will
depart for Guyana on 21 July and Cape Fear allowed director of rugby Richard
‘Grizz’ Adams to view the players one more time as he works to get the final 12
selected for CAC games and PAN Am qualifiers.

Adams was pleased overall with the
teams performances. “Losing is never an option to be accepted and as such I am
not happy with that aspect, however I and the players have to realise that we
are not quite at the same levels of these fully professional players and teams
just yet.

“We have proven to ourselves that
we are closing the gap with every game and training session and that is
pleasing. We now have enough time to get ready for the CAC games including
Morgan’s visit which will once again bring the level of us all up again.

“In some respects the CAC games
will also be used as a development camp for the main goal and that is to
qualify for the 2011 Pan American games. That is where we want to be and that
is why Cape Fear was so important. We know that the teams we played this
weekend are better than the teams we will see in Guyana with the exception of
maybe Mexico and Guyana so it is important that we tried ourselves against such
teams.

“We were in a position to win at
least one of these matches and the games also showed very clearly what we still
have to work on and where we have some player weaknesses that we still have to
work on.

“In all of our games fitness was
not an issue and typically we scored our points at the end of the games as the
other teams tired so that is very promising. We obviously need to concentrate
on focus from the start. I have a couple more combinations of players to try
over  the next few weeks and some new players
to bring into the fold for the Pan Am qualifiers to try and find that magical
combination that will allow all of the players to play to their best abilities
as part of the team.”

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