By Rawle Welch
Despite Guyana’s outstanding performance at the just concluded NAWIRA Sevens Rugby World Cup qualifiers that was held in the Bahamas, a serious challenge still remains and that is getting our teams to compete at a level higher than what currently exist in the Caribbean.
This observation was unanimously expressed by Coaches Sherlock Solomon and Alton Agard at a review briefing which was also attended by West Indies Rugby Union President Christopher ‘Kit’ Nascimento, Guyana Rugby Football Union President Noel Adonis, Manager of the teams Robin Roberts and female captain Sabola Gray at Olympic House yesterday.
Solomon, who is the National Men’s Coach, guided his team to their third consecutive title, while Agard led the Ladies to their first.
Roberts reporting on the teams’ performances said that though the Men’s achievement was never in doubt, the whole coaching staff and management were extremely pleased with what the Ladies had accomplished after losing their opening encounter.
“After going down in the opening game to Trinidad and Tobago, it was really heartening to see them exact revenge against the same team.” Roberts said.
Gray in her short and direct presentation disclosed that the team was tired of playing second fiddle to the men and this alone was the motivating factor that inspired them to go out there and get good results.
“We were at a point where we were fed up of just being casually mentioned in the media and among the management of the sport so I’m proud of myself, the team and most importantly the Coach,” Gray stated.
She added that it was a determined effort by all the girls and hopefully the result will earn them much respect from now on.
Agard immediately went on the offensive, chiding some members of the business community and the Government for their lack of support towards the teams.
“It is really hard to keep the players focus for such competitions when twenty four hours before scheduled departure they do not know whether they’d be going,” Agard mentioned.
“I must commend the Ladies for their sacrifice and commitment that they’ve shown throughout the long journey which started some two months ago and eventually culminated with the title.”
Agard also thanked the GRFU for displaying the faith in both teams despite all the obstacles that came their way.
Giving his overview of the Ladies performance, Agard indicated that after they lost the first game against T&T, he knew it would be a difficult task to keep them motivated for the next encounter against a team that you know is much stronger than the previous one but according to him all he did was tell them to go out on the field and do their best and that was exactly what they did.
He praised the work of Canadian Spencer Robinson, who though summoned at the last minute was an inspiration to both teams and really helped them.
Men’s Coach Solomon also came in for praise from Agard for the pivotal role he played in offering his advice during the games. “I just hope that the win is the beginning of a long reign for the girls.”
Solomon in his remarks supported the views expressed by Agard, stating that it is time the teams, especially the Men be exposed to tournaments outside the region since in his opinion Guyana is clearly the best right now.
“I say this because even though we lost a few top players from the last championship and we did not play to our potential, the other Caribbean teams failed to score against us.”
He said that this year was not one of the best in terms of competition with the Jamaicans pulling out at the last moment which left the Guyanese a bit disappointed.
“I find that our players perform well against tough opposition and Jamaica would have provided us with such.”
Solomon acknowledged the bravery shown by the players, especially Richard Staglon, who returned to play after receiving 37 stitches.
He added that the team’s performances against Canada and the USA clearly showed that the two were a class above the others.
He thanked Nascimento and the GRFU for their continued belief in the team and for their crucial support.
“Guyana Men have now gone 22-0 against Caribbean teams and I’m undoubtedly proud of the guys and wish them all the best in the future,” Solomon said.
Adonis revealed that the GRFU will have to provide the teams with top class competition so that they can get to the next level.
He too commended them for the commitment and determination they showed during the tournament and the preparation phase as well.
Guyana ended third overall in both segments, while USA won the Men’s and Canada the Women. The GRFU also expressed thanks to all those business entities and individuals who offered their support to make the tour possible.
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