Jamaica women aim to ‘surprise’ at rugby champs
Jamaica's rugby women are aiming for a top-four placing at the North America Caribbean Rugby Association (NACRA) seven-a-side championships, which will be held in North Carolina, United States, from June 13-14.
The team has been strengthened with the addition of the six overseas-based players and coach Robert Hawes said this has improved the squad to the point where they could 'surprise' many by making at least the semi-finals.
"If we get to the semi-final, it would be a great achievement for Jamaica on a whole, but I will not name a position on where we would finish. I would like it to be a surprise. But I expect good things," he told The Gleaner.
The team is slated to leave the island tomorrow and as the annual tournament serves as an Olympic qualifier, they are targeting a spot in Rio 2016.
The top team is guaranteed a place at the Brazil Olympics and the second and third place finishers will advance to qualifiers for the Games.
"I expect a very good performance. I would like to stick out and say we are going to the final, but we are definitely looking for the semi-finals and see how we move from there," said Hawes.
"So, at the start, we are looking to win all three (group) matches and move on from there," he insisted.
The Jamaicans are grouped into Pool A with Barbados, Cayman Island and hosts USA and Hawes says the inclusion of the professionals is a great boost, especially for the young players.
"They (overseas players) have been settling in nicely and the management staff is just working on getting their passports sorted out, but they have settled down nicely here in Jamaica with the other players.
"The professionalism and how they carry themselves as professional rugby players is something to show and garner for the younger ones and for all our Jamaican rugby players, they need to know what it takes to be at that level or what they need to do to get to that level and their presence has helped a great deal," he continued.
"Preparations have been good so far. It could have been a little better. We are at the point where we are getting ready for game time and we are close to where we want to be. We could have used some more gym work, more nutrition, but other than that we covered most of the bases.
"The tools that we have we work with it, so I know we will perform and perform admirably for Jamaica to be proud of," he commented.