History was made over the weekend at the Garrison Savannah when Get Into Rugby (GIR) –– Barbados, the local arm of an international programme supervised by World Rugby, hosted the Trinidad and Tobago All Stars in an inaugural Rugby Sevens competition. It was held under the auspices of the Barbados Rugby Football Union (BRFU).
This was a landmark event in local rugby history involving for the first time all female teams.
Hosts BRFU fielded two teams, the Hurricanes and the Dragonflies, comprising secondary school students who have all been playing rugby for less than one year. The tournament took the form of a round-robin event, with game one going to the All Stars 32-5 over the Hurricanes. Tries were scored by visitors Imanuell Francis (3), Kimberley Chen (2) and a try and conversion from Jada Husbands. Jessica Darrell scored the lone Bajan try.
Game two featured the All Stars versus the Dragonflies, with a similar winning result, Trinidad defeating the home team 29-5. Barbadian Rhea McCollin scored her team’s lone try, while the visitors racked up points through Chen and Aquilla O’Brien with two tries each, Chantelle Charles with one try, and conversions from K. Rampersad and Susannah Gray.
Game three was an all-Bajan affair, with the Hurricanes roundly defeating the Dragonflies 35-5. Once again McCollin scored her team’s lone try, while Alanna Quintyne and Jara Emtage-Cave scored three tries each and Seanee’ Dorant, one.
Unfortunately for Bajan pride, the Hurricanes were unable to maintain their winning ways in the finals against the unbeaten All Stars who took the game 27-5. Emtage-Cave again scored the lone try for the Bajans, while Trinidadians Gray, Gianna Shiri-Roberts and Chen scored one each, Francis had two tries and Carlina Phillips one conversion.
The final score did not accurately convey the level of intensity and sheer determination shown by all the players. What they may have lacked in skills and tactics, they more than made it up in gritty courage, made all the more remarkable because of their youth and relative inexperience. There is no substitute for match experience, and facing a more experienced or more skillful opponent offered many teachable moments.
The All Stars lived up to their name and were impressively disciplined and prepared, exhibiting a maturity and professionalism that many older athletes would do well to emulate. Good training and coaching must be praised, especially when they lead to impressive victories.
Get Into Rugby started in the Caribbean less than a year ago, and the coaches and administrators should be commended for their hard work in bringing to fruition the very first international girls sevens tournament in Barbados. It should be noted that rugby will be played at the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in August 2016, and it will be the shorter sevens version. Rugby was last played at Olympic level in 1924, and it was the men’s XVs version.
In addition, the inaugural Rugby World Barbados Sevens tournament will kick off on December 10-11, 2016, and will feature top level teams from all over the world. Rugby is the fastest growing sport in North America right now, with the sevens format being especially popular. Requiring little in the way of equipment, and offering positions for a variety of body types and skillets, rugby in Barbados is poised to take off in the schools, as well as the four established clubs.