Women’s rugby is on the up in the Cayman Islands and that was evident last week by the spirited way they fought throughout their three games at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex.
Cayman were reigning Caribbean Champions but they lost their first game to Jamaica 15-12, beat the Caribbean Selects 27-12 but were lost to Trinidad and Tobago 48-0 in the finals. Cayman made their notorious slow start against the Jamaicans and found themselves 15-0 down before getting into their rhythm.
They finished strongly and the feeling was that they simply ran out of time to overhaul the deficit. Against the Caribbean Selects, Cayman were a little disjointed in the first half and again only really got into their stride after the break.
The Trinidadians gave them little chance to cause an upset from the start, but at no point did Cayman capitulate and it was just as hard to score in the 80th minute for the visitors as it was in the first.
Cayman showed immense heart to keep battling all the way to the final whistle. Coach Caroline Deegan said: “The women have all worked extremely hard over the last few months to ensure they were as prepared as possible and I think it showed in all three games.
“We have a history of taking too long to get into a game and this was our problem against Jamaica. We matched them with our standard of rugby and were unlucky to lose.
“We were able to show that we can capitalise on opportunities during the Caribbean Selects match but I do believe we could have done better than we did. Trinidad and Tobago were always going to be tough but I think we played very well against a team that is really world class. It can only help us in the future to have played against this high calibre team.
“Our training sessions were intense and the squad gave everything they had knowing that they would be representing Cayman. I think huge credit is due to the women doing as well as they did.
“Match preparation is difficult to get in Cayman. The relatively small number of girls playing rugby means that we do not have a women’s league. Travelling can also be problematic with expenses, work and family commitments.
“The team worked well together and they all performed in my eyes. This was the first international experience for a number of girls and they performed admirably.”
Desiree Sampang was Cayman’s player of the match against Trinidad. The little forward was one of the smallest players on the pitch but she typified the team’s attitude with her fighting qualities. Captained by Cindy Blekaitis against the Trinidadians, every one of them gave their heart and souls throughout the tournament.
“Desiree has been part of the women’s rugby team for many years now and has proven herself time and again, both on and off the pitch as one of the most valued players,” said Deegan. “Her work ethic and positive attitude are some of the attributes that we like to see within our team.
“We are currently focusing on the recruitment of young women leaving school to join the game. With youth comes speed and agility and combined with the knowledge and experience of our senior players, we believe that we will once again be the Caribbean champions.
“We are delighted with the success of the Under 19s men’s team this week and we hope that it encourages some of the Cayman sporting enthusiasts, boys and girls, to give rugby a try.
“We would like to thank all our sponsors and donators and especially Global Captive Management Ltd, the 2011 national women’s team sponsor.”