Several young Barbados rugby players got an opportunity to showcase their talents when they took on the visiting St Mary’s Catholic Secondary School from Canada in a sevens mini-tournament at the Garrison Savannah played on Gold Cup Saturday, Tuesday and yesterday. Bajan-Canadian rugby enthusiast, coach and referee George Mapp, frequent visitor to his homeland, was instrumental in arranging the tour.
Approximately 40 people, including Under-18 players, coaches, parents and chaperones arrived in Barbados last Friday for the weeklong visit that included the sevens mini-tournament and two XVs matches. On Saturday, a Barbados A Team and Barbados B Team faced off against St Mary’s in an exciting series of matches that kicked off at 10 a.m. With an intensity that rivalled their senior colleagues preparing for their historic first appearance in the upcoming Commonwealth Games, both Barbados teams fought hard against their more experienced visitors.
St Mary’s were noticeably bigger and more muscular than their Barbadian opponents, though, with two or three standout players whose speed and agility were impressive. Barbadian brothers, Branden and Darien Walcott, put up a spirited fight with determined tackles and outstanding plays that resulted in a number of scores for the local sides. Other home players worthy of mention were Shane “Trapper John” Howard, Shane Taylor and Mikyle Walcott.
However, when the dust settled, St Mary’s A emerged triumphant, with Barbados A in second place, after an exhilarating series of matches that held the audience at the Garrison riveted.
Sevens is the rugby equivalent of 20/20 cricket, with seven players per team, seven minutes per half, and a one-minute break at half-time. On both Tuesday and Thursday, St Marys’ managed hard-fought victories and a clean sweep of their matches, while the Barbados team learned some valuable lessons in ball-handling and forcing turn-overs.
Despite the skilled opposition, the Bajan lads walked away with their heads held high as they simply refused to give up and came within inches of defeating the Canadians. The Barbados Rugby Football Union is scheduled to host teams from Stanford University in the USA, Balmy Beach in Canada and a military team from the United Kingdom in the next few months.