The Cayman men’s national sevens team made history finishing an unprecedented second in the North American and Caribbean Rugby Association Regional Rugby Sevens tournament in Barbados last weekend.
Sixteen countries participated in the event, including Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Jamaica, Cayman, St Vincent, St Lucia, USA South, Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana, Turks and Caicos, Curacao, Mexico, Martinique, Guadeloupe and British Virgin Islands.
On Saturday Cayman beat USA South 12-7 and then Bermuda 19-0 to cement their place in the cup rounds on Sunday, before losing to Mexico 7-5 with Mexico scoring two minutes into injury time at the end of the match. It was Cayman’s first ever win over USA South and Bermuda.
On Sunday they faced Trinidad & Tobago recently back from the Commonwealth Games and another nation Cayman had not beaten in sevens. Cayman beat the Trinis 12-7 to advance to the semi-final and face last year’s losing finalist Jamaica. They beat Jamaica 12-0 and faced Guyana in the final who returned from the Pan Am games two weeks ago and who have been champions for the past five years.
Hopes were high in the Cayman camp but mistakes in the first ten minutes cost dearly. Cayman did hold out in the second half not to concede any further points and take the game back to Guyana but it was all too little to late and they secured a trip to the Hong Kong sevens in 2012, winning 27-0. It was a bittersweet moment for reflection and then joy.
It was a fantastic effort from the Cayman Islands and the squad showed that they have made massive strides this year and will continue to improve and compete at ever higher levels.
Next year will see the Rugby Sevens World Cup qualifiers and Cayman have their sights firmly set on making those finals at that tournament.
Head coach and director of rugby Richard ‘Grizz’ Adams was delighted. He said: “These guys have done a massive amount of work, not just this year but over the past five or six years in most cases. It has been a massive financial investment from both the union, individual players, the Cayman Islands Olympic Committee, Maples (through the national academy) and the department of sports to fund the travel and development of the team.
“It remains however a huge issue of cost for us to continue developing this team. We have to travel and play in world class tournaments and that means, Canada, USA, South America or Europe and that is expensive. We are so close and could have a real chance in 2012 at the world cup qualifiers and of course I still have my eyes firmly set on 2016 Rio.”