By Calvin Chapman
National 15s and youth coach, Laurence Adonis, who has experienced success at many levels in rugby has admitted that he is not happy with where the sport is right now but he believes that he can definitely help in getting the National men’s team; The Green Machine, operating at its full potential.
“We have somehow messed up and got a little indiscipline. Some players have become egotistical and we have been saying fitness is our main downfall but I think our players’ lack of knowledge and understanding of the game have also been a huge defeat for us as well. So I will be doing exercises and workshops on those areas to get our players thinking more,” the experienced coach shared with Kaieteur Sport.
Coach Adonis; a former national player, who decided to retire in 1997 and pick up coaching, during the interview with Kaieteur Sport yesterday, explained how he was essential in helping Guyana get a decent youth programme up and running at that time, which eventually lent a helping hand to the success of the National men’s team in the in the last decade. The Panthers rugby club coach, who got another stint with the national setup under the newly elected executive of the Guyana Rugby Football Union (GRFU) that took office in February of this year, recounted that in the 90s the national men’s team usually travelled to Trinidad & Tobago (T&T) where they were engaged in 7s and 15s tournaments. And, it was during these tours that he saw youth teams playing during intermission and he decided that he would help Guyana get a decent youth programme.
The National Sports Commission (NSC) 2009 coach of the year shared that himself and Conrad Arjune who were both national and Hornets rugby club players decided to help get youths involved in the sport and initially their main recruits included lads mainly from Cummings, Quamina and
Waterloo streets. Adonis, who was appointed the GRFU’s Youth and Schools’ development coach in 2000, began training the youths in the national park and in that year the first national under-16 team toured T&T where, “They didn’t perform too badly based on the fact that there was no real youth competition locally.” “We did so well in the under-19 championships in Guadeloupe in 2001that the then 18-year-old Elwin Chase got picked to represent the now disbanded West Indies senior rugby team and I also got picked as a West Indies selector. My stint didn’t last long because the old rugby association (NACRA) got disbanded”, he noted.
However, it wasn’t until 2003 that Guyana’s youth team burst onto the scene to be feared regionally after winning the Caribbean under-18 championships with an unbeaten run that sparked three consecutive years of success at that level. However, in 2006 and the 2007 championship that served as the under-20 world cup qualifier Guyana lost both finals to Jamaica. “We were so prepared (in 2003) that we won every single game including against the top ranked team Trinidad in their backyard,” Adonis recalled.
“Many of the players didn’t have any international experience before that. They played for local clubs and the amount of players who came out of that under-18 successful run eventually went on to help the green machine dominate at the senior level where we won 7s and 15s championships for a number of years; players the likes of Kevin McKenzie, Claudius Butts, Theodore Henry and Albert LaRose.”
Adonis posited that one of his proudest moments as a coach was in 2009 when the men’s team won the regional 7s championship in Mexico in an unbeaten run where they got past the might home side in the final. “While we were coming through the airport at Panama after winning in Mexico, a guy stopped us and said that we were the most unselfish team he had ever seen play and it was a joy to watch us play and pass the ball around. I felt proud,” the experienced coach remembered.
Coach Adonis, addressed as ‘Laurie’ by everyone, is aware of the uphill task the entire GRFU has but noted the fact that, “Right now everything is at a standstill because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are just waiting and hoping everything gets under control as soon as possible and right now all I am asking my players to do is run. Stay fit mainly through cardio exercises. Do some ball handling on your own, watch old rugby tapes and try to analyse some plays.” “If we didn’t have the coronavirus problem we (the team) would have been out training. We have a lot of work to do especially on our scrums and lineups. We also need a bit of pace and power so I have encouraged the guys to keep their body in tune.”
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