Welcome embraces 'violent' rugby

Shakur Welcome has been excelling in adult football as well as in the youth leagues as a goalkeeper with Cayman Athletic since he was 14, and is now intending to make an impact in rugby. 

He has been into rugby for nearly a year and plays center or wing in the sevens game and either flanker, wing or fullback in the 15s format. 

Welcome claims “he didn’t take up rugby, rugby took me up.” He added, “I came home from school one night and my mom asked me if I wanted to try out for Cayman’s Under-19 national rugby team because she got an email from one of the rugby coaches inviting me.” 

Welcome was not sure, because he thought it was “a violent sport” and was well aware of the numerous injuries players routinely acquire. After thinking about it, Welcome decided to go to training as he had nothing to do on Saturdays. His natural ability shone through and he made the squad after only four weeks. 

The 18-year-old Caymanian studies accounts at UCCI and is still with Cayman Athletic under the watchful eye of technical director Ernie “Gillie” Seymour. Welcome hopes to go to the U.S. on a football scholarship to study next year. The “beautiful game” remains his favorite sport, although he has taken a keen interest in the Rugby World Cup, in which New Zealand face Australia in the final on Sunday. 

“I don’t really have a favorite side but I think New Zealand is going to win it,” Welcome said. 

His ambition this season is “to win the Cayman Islands Football Association goalkeeper of the year award in the Premier League because I’ve won that award in almost every league that I have played for besides U-13.” 

He also wants to help Cayman qualify in major tournaments in both sports. 

Welcome has fallen in love with rugby. - PHOTOS: RON SHILLINGFORD

Welcome has fallen in love with rugby. – PHOTOS: RON SHILLINGFORD

Shakur Welcome has adapted to the physical nature of rugby well.

Shakur Welcome has adapted to the physical nature of rugby well.

Welcome plays beach football as well as the regular game.

Welcome plays beach football as well as the regular game.

Welcome expects the All Blacks to beat Australia in the World Cup final on Sunday. - PHOTO: AP

Welcome expects the All Blacks to beat Australia in the World Cup final on Sunday. – PHOTO: AP
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