Conan Osborne is tough
Conan Osborne, Jamaica's national rugby captain, is as tough as the comic-book character of the same name.
Forced by circumstances to play last November's World Cup Rugby Sevens qualifying tournament in Mexico with a broken wrist and an injured hip, Osborne says he couldn't have watched from the sidelines. Now he's on the road to recovery.
Jamaica made history by becoming the first Caribbean nation to qualify for a world-level rugby championship. However, had the 24-year-old captain done surgery to repair his injuries as planned 2-3 months ago, he would have missed the Mexico qualifier. Now in his fifth year representing Jamaica, he explained, "I felt to myself if I get my wrist fixed and just have to watch the tournament, I believed in the boys still, but for me personally, I felt if we didn't qualify, I'd assume a bit of the blame to myself."
More over, he said, "If we did qualify, it would be amazing, but on a personal level, I'd feel upset that I wasn't part of that journey and something I've dreamt of for the last five years."
Jamaica beat the Dominican Republic, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Mexico, and Guyana to make the breakthrough. The encounter with the Guyanese went down to the wire with a last-minute try scored by Osborne, giving Jamaica a 28-24 victory.
PERFECT FOR JAMAICANS
With surgery on both his injuries behind him now, Osborne says Jamaican rugby has grown from strength to strength. He reckons that rugby, and especially the sevens format, is perfect for Jamaicans.
"The attributes that you need are just suited to Jamaicans: Having that raw aggression is what we're born with; speed naturally - look at the athletics. That is exactly what we're born with," he enumerated. "Having the power is exactly what we've got", he added for emphasis.
He argues that Jamaica would make a giant step forward with early exposure to the game.
"A lot of guys who play in Jamaica," he outlined, "they've grown up with athletics and soccer and things like that, and then they find out about rugby and they love rugby, but the difference is that they're picking up rugby at 14, 13 years old, maybe even later, whereas all the top nations are picking up the sport at four or five, and that's 12 years of growth that's being missed out on."