Cayman rugby 7s boys excel in Orlando

Cayman’s Under-18 boys rugby 7s team drew on the talents of several Under-16 players to gain fifth place in a recent tournament in Orlando.

The Tradeview Markets Under-18 boys rugby 7s team recently returned from Orlando where they competed in the April 19-20 Tropical 7s tournament.

The team had five players returning to the tournament for their second year, while it was the first visit to the tournament for the remainder of the 12 players. The team was a mix of Under-18 and Under-16 players, giving great experience to the younger players“It helps them to gain that confidence in their ability and I really expect to see them grow immensely over the next year’ said Head Coach Edward Westin.

The tournament format was set as three pools of five teams. After pool play, each team would be ranked in their respective pool and then go into a second round robin with the equally ranked teams from the other pools. Cayman was listed to play three games on Friday, with their final pool game on Saturday, followed by their two round robin games for final placement.

Pool games

Cayman kicked off with a victory over Alliance Rugby from Texas. Tries came from Bobby Speirs (2), Lex Dobson (1) and Matthew Gilmour (1), while Matthew Hanson put over one conversion. Alliance managed to score a try in the corner and Hanson received a yellow card on the play for a high tackle as the player was scoring. It was too little, too late for Alliance however, as Cayman closed off the game with the final score of 22-5.

In their second game, Cayman faced Saskatchewan 7s, who were a much bigger team. Tries were scored by Speirs (1) and Captain Ewan Wilson (1). Cayman put in a strong defensive effort against powerful opposition and after being 14-10 down in the final moments, Cayman’s Hanson ran in for a try in the corner. However, a surprise call by the referee that the ball was held up meant it was brought back for a scrum. With it being final play, Cayman got the ball, but it was turned over in the next ruck and a Saskatchewan player ran the length of the pitch to secure the win 19-10.

Immediately following the loss to Saskatchewan, play was suspended because of lightning storms in the area, and the remaining games were postponed until the following day.

With one win and one loss, Cayman had to pick up and start afresh, and that is exactly what they did. Their first game on Saturday was a draining match against New Brunswick Spruce, who were playing a ground game with tireless hit ups by their giant forwards.

Cayman’s Cam Sinclair received a yellow card just before half-time, forcing Cayman to start the second half a man down. Despite this setback, Cayman’s unrelenting defence kept New Brunswick at bay, and secured a win with tries from Speirs (1), Dobson (1), and Alfie Parker (1). Team Captain Wilson slotted two conversions to make the final score 19-14 for Cayman.

The final pool game for Cayman was against Cape Pirates from Florida. Cayman managed to secure a narrow 15-14 victory with tries from Matthew Westin (1), Speirs (1) and Wilson (1).

With that concluding the pool stages, Cayman was ranked second in their pool, meaning they would face Celtic Barbarians from Canada and Alaska Rugby in a round robin for final placing 4-6.

Round robin

Cayman played their best game against Celtic Barbarians, keeping the pressure on and scoring a couple quick tries through Hanson (1), and Westin (1). A conversion from Wilson took the score to 12-0, but after easing up for a split second, the Barbarians responded with two quick tries of their own. Cayman switched on again and some great defence saw them hold off the attacking Barbarians to bring a half-time tie at 12-12.

The second half saw more great play from Cayman, with Parker scoring a try to bring the game to 17-12. Westin received a yellow card for playing the scrum half at the breakdown which took Cayman down to six men. The Barbarians put the pressure on but Cayman’s solid defensive effort saw them regain possession and a quick two-on-one on the blind side saw Dobson sprint down the wing and under the post for a try to secure the win, with Wilson again making the conversion to bring the final score to 24-12.

Cayman’s final game was against Alaska Rugby, who had also beaten the Celtic Barbarians. The winner of this game would secure fourth place in the tournament.

Cayman started the scoring with a try from team Captain Wilson, but the conversion was missed to give Cayman a 5-0 lead. Alaska soon came back to tie the game 5-5. A try from Speirs put Cayman in the lead again 10-5, with the referee overruling the raised flags of the touch judges to call the conversion no good.

Alaska put the pressure on and Cayman kept solid defence. Cayman secured a penalty with less than a minute remaining. With a strong wind blowing, the clearance kick did not reach touch and, after shifting the ball out to the opposite wing, Alaska broke away for a final try to make it 10-10. The conversion was deemed good and Alaska secured the win and the fourth place ranking, defeating Cayman 12-10.

Cayman placed 5th overall out of 15 teams in the Boys Under-18 Open division.

This was a great result for the Cayman side, with many of the players competing at this level for the first time and a handful of Under-16 players on the squad. Over the next year, they will be looking to compete for top spot at this and similar tournaments.

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