Seven months ago on Public Beach, a group of girls began a journey that would take them to victory in the U-18 shield final in the prestigious high school division of the Las Vegas Invitational Sevens tournament. This was the first Cayman Islands underage girls team that had ever traveled for competition, and the trip would not have been possible without the committed and sustained effort of all rugby-playing girls on the island. Out of a talented pool of players, twelve were able to travel.
The traveling squad was Tya Bouvell, Sami Galvin, Ciara Galway, Mya Heiss, Jasmine Line, Pippa Parker, Ella Plunkett, Ria Plunkett (captain), Kaylee Scott, Elana Sinclair, Skylar Smith (vice captain), and Eleri Stabler.
Day one brought a challenging group with reigning champions EORU, Liberty North and Land Park. These were the girls’ first competitive games, and despite a tough start, they grew into the competition and started to execute the game plan by demonstrating high-level tackling and passing skills.
The first game of day two was the shield semifinal against Crusaders. Despite conceding an early try, the team rallied and started to put together a flowing passing game, allowing winger Jasmine Line to get around the outside for two break-away tries, both converted by Mya Heiss. Ella Plunkett showed good power and game awareness to take a penalty on the halfway line and break through several Crusader players to score. The final score was 19-15 to Cayman.
The girls started the shield final at a fast pace, putting pressure on from the kickoff with strong tackles and accurate and well-timed passing to release backs Sami Galvin and Jasmine Line, who were able to use their pace to score early tries. A structured defense throughout the match ensured that Cheveliers were unable to break the line, and were quickly punished for any mistakes. As the match continued, Cayman was able to demonstrate its power in attack with strong runs resulting in tries from Ella and Ria Plunkett. Mya Heiss frequently added the extras as Cayman pulled into a convincing lead. A dominant performance resulted in a 46-0 victory to Cayman, making Cayman shield champions in their first competitive tournament.
Coaches Katy Bayles, Lisa Kemp and Laura Willighan hope to build upon this success starting with an event with Fidel Murphy’s and Jacques Scott on March 16, which will raise funds for the development of the girls program at the Cayman Rugby Football Union. Tickets for the St. Patrick’s Day-themed karaoke party will be available from the girls’ players and Fidel’s Murphys.
Training will continue in the buildup to the domestic sevens competition season finale. These games will take place on April 14 at 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. and are sure to showcase the high level of talent that Cayman has to offer.
New players are invited to join this exciting and promising program. Training times are Wednesday 3:30-5 p.m. and Saturday 10:00-11 a.m., both at South Sound Rugby Club.