By Rawle Welch
Skipper of the West Indies Sevens Rugby team, Guyanese Claudius Butts, in an interview with Kaieteur Sport last Thursday evening said he believes the recent exposure against high level teams in Uruguay recently provided a tremendous boost to the team’s ability and confidence.
The lanky winger, who is renowned for his mesmerising runs down the flanks, took over the captaincy of the team from Trinidad and Tobago’s Graeme Alkins in 2007 when they participated in the IRB World Sevens Series in San Deigo, California, USA.
“The Punta del Este Tournament really exposed us to the various styles of the game, we were able to play against some of the best Sevens teams in the world and what we saw was that South American teams played a different style of rugby as opposed to the Europeans,” Butts disclosed.
He mentioned that the South Americans play a more physical game where they are always much closer for tackles, whereas the European style is much similar to that of the West Indians where room is given and the whole field is utilised.
“The Europeans like us try to maximise their speed rather than make physical contact which allows more freedom with the ball,” he stated.
“Conversely, the South Americans are more robust in contact situations and anticipate the breakdowns much faster,” Butts indicated.
“I definitely learned more as a captain, while the tour did provide invaluable experience for the players, it gave us a wider view of the sport and how to react to the different techniques.”
He said that even though he would rate his performance during the competition as decent, he was still not satisfied with it, pointing to having to play out of his usual position as a possible cause for that.
“I’m usually a winger or plays centre sometimes, but in Uruguay I was asked to play stand off and wing and that was because the Coach wanted me to control the game due to my experience after we realised that a few of the players were relatively inexperienced at that level,” Butts pointed out.
The WI Captain, who is enjoying his fifth selection on the squad and widely regarded as one of the veterans on the team, acknowledged that he will have to play an influential role during the upcoming IRB World Sevens Series in March in Hong Kong.
He and team-mate Albert La Rose are currently in training before they leave on February 16 to attend a two-week camp in Barbados.
The speedy winger added that because of the stature of the tournament which will have most of the top Sevens teams in the world, they expect to be fully fit for such a demanding event and hopefully do some damage by upsetting a few notable opponents.
Some of the top flight nations expected at the tournament includes Italy, Fiji, Samoa, Argentina and New Zealand among others.
“This is one of the biggest Sevens tournament in the world and you are exposed to a large television audience as well as packed stadiums so we intend to grasp the opportunity with both hands and put up a good fight against all our opponents,” he said.
Butts have played three times in the USA, Uruguay and extensively in the Caribbean so being on centre stage should not be an intimidating scenario to him.
He opined that the current team even after the final selection is made will be one of the strongest to be assembled for sometime, citing the inclusion of UK-based players Bevon Armitage and Luther Burrell along with our own Guyanese Ireland-based Kevin McKenzie as additional arsenal for the team.
He also mentioned another Guyanese Richard Staglon as a very good player and someone deserving of recognition and a further boost to the side.
Butts and La Rose are presently training four times per week under the guidance of Fitness Instructor Cornel Millington at the National Park.
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