Cayman boys battle in Bahamas

The Cayman Islands Under-12 rugby side recently travelled to the Bahamas to play in the Fidelity Bank Tri-Nations rugby tournament.

The tournament was hosted by the Freeport Rugby Club as 19 players made the trip from Cayman. Last year, Cayman went and took home the trophy. A team from Bermuda also attended this year’s tournament for the first time.

Action revolved around a round robin, 10-a-side format with teams from Cayman, Freeport and Bermuda, as well as a Barbarians side which boasted players from all three participating nations.

First up for Cayman was one of the Freeport teams. Cayman were on the back foot from the get go. To their credit, they lifted their game in the second half and fought back gallantly. However, a strong win to the home side was the result.

Cayman’s second game ended in a narrow loss to a well-drilled Bermuda side. There was some good work in the front row with James Priaulx and Finn Galway leading the charge. Danny Link provided good service from the base of the scrum and also made a few solo breaks through the gap.

The Cayman boys finished off day one with a game against the other Bahamas team, who were also a much improved outfit from last year. However, some silky skills and good burgling from Matthew Westin helped the Cayman side to a win, though Jevon Brown and Finn Lovegrove also stood out in the pack.

A few Cayman players were in the Barbarians side, resplendent in Canary yellow for their games. They played well as a team and scored a few points, much to the delight of the crowd.

After an early night, the boys were keen to get on and play the 13-a-side ‘Test’ matches. All the teams assembled for the national anthems before the boys took the pitch. Cayman’s first game was against a very big Bermuda side.

Game Captain Cam Galloway gave his players a rousing speech before the game. However, this faded into a distant memory once the two teams squared up. Believe it or not, one of their players tipped the scales at 312 pounds. There were a few other large lads as well and the Cayman tactic of running them off their feet would have worked, if only they had the ball.

Mason Duval was an intimidating presence for Cayman but the first half was one-way traffic with Bermuda scoring several tries. After some encouragement by coach Chris Rowland and assistant Mick Kehoe, the Cayman team took the field with harder attitude. Sustained pressure on the Bermuda line resulted in Tommy Kehoe using his bulk to power over for a well-deserved try. Bermuda, however, would come away the winners.

Cayman played their final Test against the local Freeport side. Freeport managed to score two well worked tries and went to the break with a solid lead. The little guys from both sides were up and all of a sudden there was more space for some fast-running rugby. John-Ross Clough and Jake Bailey both made an impression out wide, while Ewan Wilson used the ball wisely closer in.

Eventually, the ball made it into the hands of the Pocket Rocket Dante Baptiste. With strength and superior speed, he headed to the try line while beating about six defenders on the way. A brilliant solo effort from one of the newer players in the squad.

The Cayman side got their tails up after that and continued their attack. Doug Rowland went right before hitting the left-side gap to dot down over the line. The scores were tied, the game ended in a draw and both teams were happy with the result.

It was a very successful development tour for the Cayman side. Head coach Chris Rowland said that he was happy with the efforts put in from all of the boys and also those parents who travelled as well. Rob Speller, the president of the Freeport club, is keen to have the boys back for a third year and a tour to Freeport next year looks definitely on the cards.

The squad will be on break over the summer, with training resuming at the South Sound Rugby Club for all ages in early September.