The head coach of the RHSW Cayman Islands Men’s National XV, Garry Southway, has announced his match day 23 players to face Mexico at the Health City Cayman Big Game 8 to be played at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex on Saturday.

The team has six personnel changes from the squad that beat Bermuda 15-28 on June 3. Coach Southway said in a press release, “We are fortunate to be able to strengthen the squad for the game against Mexico by bringing back a number of experienced players who were unavailable for selection and travel to the game in Bermuda. This would include Justin Wight and Captain Chris Kennedy, who are part of the three-man player leadership group, and Shane Westin, Johann Fourie and Alex Pineau, who were previously selected against USA South.

Andy Hall, a former U-19 player, will be the only debutant in the squad, having returned from University in the U.K., and is expected to show up well physically.

Coach Southway added, “The game against Mexico will be a tough test for the Cayman squad but we have improved dramatically after each game we have played, and we should be confident of victory at Truman Bodden Stadium in front of our home fans at Cayman Big Game 8 on Saturday.”

Mexico is in a transitional phase, with 12 player retirements since last season, the press release states, “but the home field advantage will be in stark contrast to the last time Cayman faced Mexico in Dos Rios, Mexico, at an altitude of 8,600 feet above sea level. That match saw a 10-point loss for the Caymanians, having been 20 points down at halftime.”

Mexico’s team is the incumbent Rugby Americas North Champion, and is coming off wins against Bermuda and USA Rugby South.

However, “Cayman Rugby has never shied away from a challenge,” the press release states. “After all, Cayman defeated Mexico at Big Game 1 in 2012 and recorded more recent wins over USA Rugby South in 2015 and 2016.”

Cayman Rugby Vice President Peter de Vere said he is looking forward to the test match.

“Having avoided any threat of relegation by defeating Bermuda, I think the team can take the field on Saturday knowing they have nothing to lose, and that makes us a really dangerous proposition for the Mexicans,” he said. “We have a strong set of forwards and a dangerous backline. If we get our defense right and avoid giving away kickable penalties, then this is a very winnable game for us.

“With a good crowd behind us, that will be the extra fuel in the tank we need to make this happen.”

Tickets are available at the gate for $25, or in advance (adults, $15, kids under 12, $7) from www.caymanrugby.com.

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