A Cayman women’s rugby team traveled to Texas to compete in the inaugural Celebration 7s tournament last weekend.
The tournament was for women exclusively and comprised of sides from across the south-western United States with Cayman being the only overseas side there.
The Cayman side, comprising of about half of the current national team, expected some tough competition and that is exactly what they got.
The first game matched them with the Dallas Lady Quins, a team that had toured here the previous August.
The hard fought game was end to end, with Cayman scoring first through Shenel Gall and Dallas scoring straight back on their next possession.
Cayman went into the break ahead and continued to hold their lead until the last 20 seconds when a breakaway try by Dallas gave them a 29-24 victory.
Cayman dominated the next game against Little Rock from Arkansas, but struggled to turn possession into points with some sloppy handling just as they closed in on the try line.
But thanks to tries by Biannca Johnson and Shenel Gall they ran out 10-5 winners.
The Denton side who had started the tournament with only seven players lost two to injury and had to forfeit their game with Cayman for a 25-0 win and the lead in the competition at that stage.
Next up for Cayman was an extremely talented University of Texas Longhorns team who had put 40 points on the hosts, The Griffins, earlier.
Both sides canceled each other out in the early exchanges, but it was Cayman on two occasions that should have taken the lead, again let down by handling errors.
The Texans struck just before half-time to go in 7-0 up. In the second half, the Texans took control and their youthfulness and fitness proved the deciding factor running out 27-5 winners.
In the final game against the Griffins, coach James Buckley ensured the players who had not played a lot earlier in the day got run out.
Cayman struggled in the first half conceding three tries without reply. Buckley rang in the changes in the second half and a side with a distinctly national team feel to it dominated the second seven minutes of play.
Tries from Gall, Cassianne Lawrence and Biannca Johnson brought Cayman roaring back into the game, but as time expired they found themselves still trailing by a missed conversion, losing 19-17.
Team manager Mark Woollard said, “The tournament was great experience and the things that didn’t go that well can be corrected through coaching.
“The team gained valuable experience in taking part in a tournament on foreign soil and will be stronger for it.”
Woollard added that some players really stood out, particularly Gall, Chynae Samuels, Johnson and newcomer Cassianne Lawrence.
The plan is now for the national team to travel back to the States in the summer to take part in another competition as they build towards hosting their own Halloween Women’s 7s in October at Truman Bodden Stadium and the Central American and Caribbean Games and NACRA 7s in November in Mexico.
The girls get little respite, with round 3 of the Elite Marble & Granite Women’s 7s happening this Sunday at 4 p.m. at the rugby club in South Sound.