JRFU seeks funds for Hong Kong Sevens
Jamaica Rugby Football Union (JRFU) chairman Jerry Benzwick said that the association needs US$20,000 (J$2.5 million) to repay a debt owed to organisers of the Hong Kong Sevens Tournament in order to participate in this year's staging from April 6-8.
The debt regards national player Omar Dixon's eye surgery last year. He was injured during the Jamaica Crocs' opening game against Germany in the Hong Kong Sevens tournament when a high boot to the head not only left him concussed, but also detached his retina and cracked his eye socket. This surgery cost US$30,000 (J$3.8 million), and it was covered by the Hong Kong Rugby Union (HKRU). Benzwick said that of this debt, a third has already been repaid, but the union is having difficulty finding the remainder.
Dixon has since recovered, but the JRFU, which had been pleading with corporate Jamaica for help, has got no sponsorship towards this fee since.
Benzwick said that there may be punishment from World Rugby, the sport's governing body, if the JRFU does not find the money soon.
"We need to cover our debt with the Hong Kong Rugby Union," he said. "We have to go (to the Hong Kong Sevens). We don't have any alternative. We don't go, then it's not only embarrassing for the country and the Union (JRFU), but we'll also get sanctioned and fined as well."
But Benzwick said that the HKRU has been reasonable about the JRFU settling its debt.
"What Hong Kong Rugby Union is saying is 'since you owe us this money, why don't you pay your fare, which covers most of the money, and then pay us the balance?'," he said.
He said that the association's funding is currently stretched, providing for the players' well-being at competitions.
"Once we qualify for a major tournament, World Rugby pays for that. Our tickets for the tournament are covered by them. What we have to cover is the nutritional and medical needs of our players. That's where the cost comes in."
Benzwick also appealed for persons to contact the JRFU through its office number to make donations.