Cayman had a disappointing end to the 2015 international North America and Caribbean Rugby Association season for the RHSW national men’s 15s at the SteppingStones Big Game 5, but it was not wholly unexpected.
Cayman lost 24-3 to Mexico at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex on Saturday.
Mexico has a fully professional program, and keeping up with them will get harder each year because in Cayman, rugby remains a strictly amateur sport.
Cayman’s director of rugby Richard “Grizz” Adams said, “I don’t want to be making excuses, I have spent my professional career working with ‘next best’ amateur nations, and I feel I am somewhat specialized at achieving more than is expected.”
Adams said that in Canada he took the Under-19 team to 16th, sixth and fourth in the world at successive World Cup tournaments.
“We have taken Cayman U-20 to the Junior World Trophy, finishing 24th in the world. We have won five regional U-19 tournaments, women’s regional tournaments, and we are continually knocking at the door in sevens and 15s.
“Our youth programs from U-4 up are all blossoming and growing steadily and to plan. As such, I am not sure it is a case of Cayman rugby bouncing back from this loss but rather the RHSW national men’s XV team fine-tuning what we have at the top level.”
Was everything perfect? Adams feels it certainly was not and the performances both individually and as a team need to be scrutinized by all involved.
He said, “We need to re-plan and retrain and then we must execute without the huge number of unforced errors.”
He added that Cayman has very capable athletes at this level and they are preparing more each year, so the numbers at this level are starting to swell.
But he added that the Cayman team is restricted, since many top players are only available from university during very small windows of opportunity, so this has to be seen as a chance to simply prepare more domestic players to this level of competition.
“Personally, I think we should have been in a much better position to win this game than we were and those questions need to be asked and answered, and they will be before the dust settles.”
Adams felt Mexico out-muscled Cayman, and that is not a trait they are used to.
“They out-worked us and simply wanted the ball more than we did. We need to reinstall those qualities in these players and those coming through.”
He feels that is there is a need to build steadily with set goals and direction over a long-term plan, and they must not get despondent when they have a setback.
“This team and management group were appointed three years ago and our coaches Brad Cowdroy and Tim Rossiter were tasked with taking Cayman to the next round of the Rugby World Cup qualification rounds,” Adams said.
“We made good inroads with a first win against USA South this year, and better performances in the warm-up matches.”
Adams felt that the Cayman players who did well were Dan Bond, Peter De Vere, Joel Clark, Morgan Hayward and Paul Westin.
The Rugby World Cup tournament is in 2016, and Adams said they must be ready for that as a nation, regardless of the personnel in charge or on the field.
The turnout for the SteppingStones Big Game 5 was massive, he added. “It was very vocal and very supportive, despite what can only be described as a less than normal performance from our guys.
“So in answer as to how Cayman will bounce back? Ninety percent of the programs will continue onwards as planned, the RHSW men will evaluate and re-plan and then move forward.”