IRB coach impressed with local players
- calls for lifting standard of coaching and refereeing By Michael DaSilva
Stabroek News
July 25, 2002

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International Rugby Board’s (IRB) Regional Development Manager Tom Jones is very impressed with the standard of Guyana’s rugby and feels it is competitive from a Regional (Caribbean) point of view.

Speaking to Stabroek Sport in an exclusive interview yesterday, Jones, a former player, coach, referee and administrator in Canada said if he is to judge Guyana’s standard from the practice game he witnessed on Tuesday at the National Park, he would say Guyana’s standard is very competitive.

Jones based his argument on the fact that he witnessed games in St. Lucia and in Trinidad and Tobago.

“There are players here who can compete successfully in any of the other countries I think, and it would be worthwhile for those players to have a go in those other countries, if they want to travel and expand their horizon... I think it’s a good standard here and good stuff to work with” Jones commented.

Jones said Jamaica has more players and were able to recruit more good athletes than some of the other islands at the moment.

Asked if any of the local players he saw in action at the National Park on Tuesday impressed him, Jones said “well there are some very good athletes, Troy Arjoon was one of the players who certainly impressed me and Theodore Henry, Mugabe Hunte, Orin Prince who is a young lad, so there were some good young players there, but there were also some good young players whose names I didn’t get. There were also some good players who played for the West Indies in England,” he said (Elwin Chase) adding... “Elan London, he’s a very powerful player, but I hate to single out people.”

Jones said he is in Guyana from the IRB which is the world governing body for rugby, to work with the rugby playing countries in North America (Canada and USA) and the Caribbean, from Guyana north up to Bermuda.

Asked what he think is needed to improve Guyana’s rugby, Jones said “the more rugby the better, more competitions, more schools and more teams.”

He also called for the expansion of the schools programme while suggesting... ”there’s no quick fix. It would be easy to say what we need to do is give one lump-sum payment of a lot of money, that would be great and I wish we could do that, but we can’t afford to do that, so what we need to do is a long term programme to increase the player base, to elevate the quality of the coaching and refereeing, but that’s something that takes time’s the same challenge for every country... but I would say, increase the number of children playing and if that’s done, the future of the game would be very very good.

I would love to give US$1M but I can’t...and what we need to do here, we need to create self sustaining programmes which take advantage of the athleticism here and the technical knowledge that’s already here, and the international board can help that along, it can’t solve all our problems, but it can help, but you’re on the right track here”.

According to Jones who started playing rugby at the age of 10, it is the desire of the IRB to help the Unions in this Region to be as good as they can be, “so they put me in place, and I bring the services of the International Board and the resources to each of the Unions here” Jones said.

Prior to his presence in Guyana, Jones who was appointed Regional Development Manager by the IRB four and one half months ago, visited Bermuda, Bahamas, Martinique, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados and Trinidad.

Jones will leave tomorrow for Trinidad where he along with Guyana Rugby Football Union’s president Kit Nacimento will attend a meeting of the North America West Indies Rugby Association (NAWIRA).

The NAWIRA planning meeting is being held with the West Indies Union’s representatives, to determine what to do in the next four-year period for rugby. From Trinidad, Jones will return to Canada.