Ruggers optimistic over future

Rugby players in the Cayman Islands are confident in the sport’s future here.

After losing to the USA South Panthers over the weekend, many of Cayman’s national 15s team members maintained an upbeat attitude. Among them was man of the match Joel Clark, who said local tacklers have room to grow.

“I’m looking forward to the progress of this team,” Clark said. “This is one of the best teams we have ever had.”

Clarke had a solid game at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex against the Americans, scoring a key try. However it was not enough to prevent a four-point victory for the visitors, who now go on to host the North America Caribbean Rugby Association Championships final against Guyana later this month. The reigning champions – who only started playing in the competition in 2013 – have now defeated Cayman two straight times, edging local tacklers by two points in Atlanta last year.

The 2014 squad was considered better than their 2013 counterparts due to improvements in training under Cayman Rugby Football Union strength and conditioning coach Dave Clancy. Recent form also favored Cayman as local tacklers are rated 55th in the world according to the latest International Rugby Board rankings. The sport’s highest-ever ranking came after a 21-point victory over Bermuda this month in the NACRA Championships’s first round.

Many of the key performers in that contest – such as Marco Du Plessis, Morgan Hayward and Yohann Regnard – played major roles against the Americans. Going forward, the national team has a number of talents like Keswick Wright, Mark Soto and Cueme Parker that can combine with veterans such as Pete De Vere, Jon Murphy and Phillip Fourie to be formidable in for the foreseeable future.

Another young man that can be an impact player in the years to come is Alex Pineau, the CRFU’s spokesperson for the Men’s Elite XVs program. Pineau said after getting over the disappointment of last Saturday’s defeat, the plan is to hit the training ground.

“We’re gutted, it’s as simple as that,” Pineau said. “We really planned to win and go on to smash Guyana. The boys are distraught. Now it’s back to our routine. We’ll be going to (the) Sevens (format of the game), take a few months off and then it’s back to training and going back in the gym.”