Six days to go
By Rawle Welch
When Guyana face Trinidad and Tobago exactly six days from now for a place in the final of the Northern Zone of the NACRA Rugby World Cup Qualifiers, the ruggers from the ‘Land of Many Waters ‘ will be putting a proud record on the field of play against their regional counterparts, at the National Stadium.
The ‘Kings’ of rugby in the region have defeated the Trinidadians two out of three times that they’ve played since 2005 with their most recent victory occurring last year when they narrowly beat their Caribbean neighbours 22-20 to set up a final showdown against Bermuda which they lost.
The bitter rivalry between these two Caribbean territories in sports has intensified over the years with Guyana chiefly responsible for disrupting their lofty programmes and goals in football and rugby that created much vexation among its people.
The loss to Guyana’s Golden Jaguars that caused the exit of the Soca Warriors from the 2014 FIFA World Cup was simply too much for them to bear because they are such a proud people and then add how much money was earmarked to be invested in their campaign only to be eliminated by a team whose preparations and investment is nowhere near that of the Warriors.
The fact that they were tamed by a team that benefitted from sparse Government and corporate support prior to the two teams clash provoked much anger among sport administrators, aficionados and even members of the Government.
But, that result came after Guyana had already disposed of their nemesis in the NACRA Sevens format thereby eliminating them from playing in the World Series in Hong Kong earlier this year so the Soca Warriors conquest was the tipping point that caused a national discussion among all stakeholders in sport on the Caribbean island.
Underfunded Guyana had instigated that forum due to their success against T&T and as one writer aptly described Guyanese athletes, “they are hard working, committed and determined to excel with the meagre funds and equipment that they have, unlike those in T&T who have all the funding and all the necessary tools, but could not dispose of Guyana”.
Speaking with the local ruggers recently, they feel that despite the disappointment of sharing the points with Barbados, the welcomed inclusion of their stars such as Claudius Butts, Richard Staglon and Ronald Mayers and the fact that they are playing at home is enough incentives for them to spoil the Trinidadians party and plans once again.
However, the Trinidadians have prepared better than ever this time and even though T&T’s National Coach Larry Mendez agreed that Guyana, “is a tough nut to crack” they are determined to exact revenge for the debilitating disappointments in every sphere of sports they’ve suffered in the past so Guyana better beware and prepare to the hilt to repel the anticipated anger of the visitors.
We surely have the ingredients to do so, we’ve shown in the past that determination and national support are two critical elements for overcoming the best of oppositions and Chelsea’s dogged efforts and subsequent conquest of the mighty Barcelona and later Bayern Munich teams in the UEFA Champions League are recent examples of such.
They came from the brink of exiting to capturing one of the most prestigious tournaments in world football and it was sheer determination by a bunch of players who faced adversity, but remained focused on the prize that won it for them.
Guyana is definitely the best team in Sevens rugby in the region and the guys are confident that a determined effort come next Saturday will see them maintain their dominance over their neighbours once gain.