Ruggers out to atone for Americas Challenge Series horrors
By Akeem Greene
Guyana’s elevation to the Americas Rugby Challenge Series provided a rude awakening with a string of crushing defeats to hosts Colombia, Paraguay and Mexico last August. They lost to the hosts 7-71, Paraguay 7-86 and Mexico 36-48.
The abysmal performance, though enlightening, means they have to play Cayman Islands and win in order to return to the Series and the team’s management is approaching that match as the first step in making amends.
The Men’s 15s clash with Cayman Islands on February 9 is a virtual play-off to see who returns to the high level series in Colombia. Cayman Islands, ranked 52, are six places ahead of Guyana on the rankings.
After given the harsh reality of what high-intensity is about, Head Coach Kenneth Grant-Stuart stated that the current training regime is good and they are looking to address the issues which plagued them in the Series and implement them against Cayman Islands.
“We are fully aware of the mistakes we made [in Colombia] and everyone understands the steps we made in order to correct those mistakes so we are fully prepared.”
The coach added, “Right now what we are doing is fine-tuning and getting everyone to understand their role so we can be more positive in our approach to the match. In terms of fitness we are about 90-95%, but we have a couple of days and it is good climate for us there so we are in good shape.”
Panthers’ Jamal Angus takes up the role as captain, replacing Ryan Gonsalves. He is firmly confident the team has what it takes to overcome Cayman and have an improved showing in the Challenge Series.
“Tactically we were a bit out-coached. Those teams play a high level of rugby constantly and probably have year-round tournaments. We don’t necessarily have that going for us and it is very difficult when you stop and start. I believe this year we have tried to get our tactics better and our training has been coming alone better.”
With over eight years’ experience in rugby and 11 caps, Angus is confident he can rally the troops to victory.
“I believe that I am prepared for the challenge. I believe that I have gained the respect of the players if not all of them and I have been equipped with the capabilities of handling myself as captain and player.”
More so, the management exuded confidence of playing on the shorter pitch, stating that while not ideal, they can still “run at the Islanders.”
A standard field is 70m x 100m with the in-goal line being 10m-22m, but in the Cayman it is 61m x 91m with an in-goal of 5m.
There is currently a 38-man squad in training and coming close to departure, they will decide on the 23-man squad as they are still some technical areas to address. They depart on February 5 for Cayman Islands.