Fri | Dec 3, 2021

Benzwick praises Crocs trio for RANS title

Published:Wednesday | October 20, 2021 | 12:07 AMLivingston Scott/Gleaner Writer
BENZWICK
BENZWICK

Jamaica Rugby Football Union (JRFU) Chairman Jerry Benzwick has credited the players in the senior men’s Sevens team whom he said showed leadership in their Rugby Americans North Sevens (RANS) campaign in the Turks and Caicos Island at the weekend...

Jamaica Rugby Football Union (JRFU) Chairman Jerry Benzwick has credited the players in the senior men’s Sevens team whom he said showed leadership in their Rugby Americans North Sevens (RANS) campaign in the Turks and Caicos Island at the weekend.

Benzwick said Lucas Roy, Oshane Edie, and Gareth Steppani took charge of tactics and preparation in the absence of coach, James Bailey. Their efforts bore fruit as the Jamaica Crocs won the tournament.

Benzwick says Bailey was unavoidably absent but kept in touch to guide the players over the two days from his base in England.

However, Benzwick credits the three players for managing a fairly new group of players in what he describes as unfavourable conditions.

“It was a challenge just getting to the tournament, but we had to play,” he said. “Financially, we were challenged, but the players stood up and paid their own fare to get to the tournament.

“We had two teenagers and a new player, who never played international sevens, from Jamaica, we had others from England and our veterans from the US and UK, so it was a nice balance.

“But the truth, too, is that we didn’t have a coach on the ground and the team was actually coached by senior player Lucas Roy. He stepped in and really managed the team physically, emotionally and preparation-wise, along with Oshane Edie and Gareth Steppani.

“They were the leaders and they pulled everybody together and guided the youngsters in what they had to do.”

Jamaica defeated Turks and Caicos 24-5 and then Bermuda 31-7 on Saturday to advance to the quarter-finals, where they beat Guyana 24-0, then Barbados 21-0 in the semis.

IMPRESSED WITH TACTICS

However, what impressed Benzwick the most was how the trio adjusted their tactics to suit the competition, after a shaky start.

“We had a challenge because when we got there, we only had one and a half hours to prepare,” he said. “The guys got in Thursday, and Friday we had our one-and-a-half-hour session.

“They worked on the system and worked on everything that they were going to do. But when we got to the pitch to play the next day, it was narrow and way too small for an international game.

“And our style is to use the width to stretch defences and punch holes in their middle. Our game is best suited for a big pitch. So in the first game, we looked like crap because we couldn’t execute in the first half.

“Turks, who isn’t really on our level, had us down 5-0 and everybody was going crazy thinking the Turks got this, and thinking that Jamaica came here with a bunch of new players and was not getting it together.

“But the boys made the adjustment and did enough to get a decent win.”

The Crocs defeated Mexico 21-7 in the final on Sunday to secure their place in the Super Sevens tournament in Mexico in February. This will also serve as a qualifier to the Central American and Caribbean Games, Commonwealth Games, and Rugby Sevens World Cup.

livingston.scott@gleanerjm.com