Crocs call for regional help
After both Jamaica’s men’s and women’s rugby sevens teams took runner-up spots at the 2019 Rugby Americas North Championship in the Cayman Islands on Sunday, President of the Jamaica Rugby Union Jerry Benzwick is calling on regional bodies to include them in more of their series so that they can better prepare themselves for international tournaments.
The Jamaican team went down 40-5 to Canada in the men’s final, while the Lady Crocs narrowly lost 19-15 to Mexico in the women’s final. However, the men’s team qualified for the 2020 Hong Kong Sevens competition for the fourth straight time.
They will also get a place in the intercontinental play-off in June 2020 for the Olympic Games and will be in action at the Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru. The women’s team also qualified for the intercontinental play-offs for the Olympics next year.
However, Benzwick, who is elated with the teams’ finishes at the Cayman tournament, pointed out that over the years, they have done well at the regional level but have struggled when they go up against more professional outfits at the Hong Kong tournament or in Olympic qualifying.
As a result, he is calling on the West Indies National Rugby League Federation and the Rugby America North seven to include them in more of their series leading up to these competitions.
“We can say to our regional body that Mexico and us are the only two regional teams going to the repêchage (Olympic qualifying play-offs), so wouldn’t it be prudent and beneficial for the regional body to try and give us some competition so we can represent well? This has not been the case before as we have qualified for World Cup and got no invitation. We have written a letter asking them for that. But if we don’t see any movement towards that or any word from them that they are working on it, we will have to do what we can. But this would help us get better and bring us to another level,” Benzwick told The Gleaner.
“Everybody knew Jamaica were the clear Caribbean favourites (in Cayman) and that Canada would be our only true obstacle, and over the course of the two days, we looked pretty comfortable against those teams. The repêchage final, which is the final play-off for the Olympics, we only have a few months to get prepared, and all the teams we will face will be top level teams.
“We are like a corner-league team going to play against some Premier League clubs that are organised and are fully well-oiled machines with systems in place, specific training days, and coaching systems. So you could say we are going to get our butts kicked, but we want and crave the competition,” he said.
Nevertheless, he believes with active competition going into these tournament the team can improve enough to be competitive.
“When we saw the mistakes we made and saw that it was game management and lack of practice , we know we can overcome those with training time.
If we are together for longer periods before a tournament, these boys can compete against the best in the world, they are that good. But we need more nutrition and more time together,” Benzwick said.