The Cayman Islands Under-18 men’s rugby team welcomed a Canadian high school team, Coquitlam, from British Columbia last week, for their first visit here.
The schedule was intense, with three games in five days. Cayman selection was a major headache with more than 50 players on the roster. The coaches were looking at this series as an indicator for the 24-man squad for the upcoming North American and Caribbean Championships in Florida in July. The three game series started on Tuesday with a 7s tournament as a warm-up to the main 15-a-side games later in the week.
The 7s was highly competitive, with the Cayman Islands A team leading the pack with an unbeaten day.
The Cayman Islands B team was extremely unlucky to lose in one of the games and never gave up, despite being a much younger and smaller team, with players as young as 14.
The first 15-a-side game was held on Thursday and it was a high-speed and extremely physical encounter. Spectators admired the quality of the tackling and excellent technique.
However, it was the first competitive fixture of the season for both teams and small mistakes and errors started to creep into the game as fatigue developed.
At half-time, the scores were 10-10 and the Cayman team managed to sneak a 17-10 victory at the end of the 70 minutes with tries from Mikey Titcombe, Michael Matthews and Piers Davies.
The final 15s game was definitely a step up in quality, as both sides had worked hard on weaknesses that they identified from the previous game.
Cayman were eventual winners, again 17-10, with tries from Cameron Bridgeman, Piers Davies and Jackson Wight.
However, from a coach’s perspective, more important than the victory, was the massive improvement in the performance in such a short time.
The coaches hope that this can continue for the next touring side fixture, which is against Bishop Shanahan High School from Philadelphia on April 2 and 4 at the South Sound ground.