Rugby Board official says visit could benefit local sport By Michael DaSilva
Stabroek News
July 26, 2002

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International Rugby Board’s (IRB) Regional Development Manager, Tom Jones who wrapped up his three-day visit to Guyana yesterday is of the view that his visit can benefit local rugby.

In an exclusive interview with Stabroek Sport on Wednesday, Jones opined that being in Guyana and getting a first-hand look at what is happening in the sport here, will benefit the country in the long run.

Referring to his visit, he pointed out that this is the first time that a representative of the world governing body had ever been in Guyana, enabling him to see the strengths and some of the concerns that the sport faces locally.

He assured that when he returns to Dublin (Ireland) where the head office is, he would be in a position to advise on ways that the IRB can help Guyana.

“The real benefit is being actually here,” the Canadian-based administrator said.

Jones, however, noted that among the local rugby administrators (Guyana Rugby Football Union) there are people who “know what to do, and it is my job to come in and help if I can.”

Jones, who was expected to leave Guyana today for Trinidad, visited Guyana as part of the IRB’s programme to enable him to work with the rugby playing countries in North America (Canada and USA) and the Caribbean, including Guyana.

Jones’ rugby career started when he was 10 years of age. “I come from a rugby family, my father played and he used to take me to the rugby ground in a pram, personally, I was always engaged in the sport and it was only natural for me. I played soccer (football) and cricket (also), but the game that seemed to suit me best was rugby. It was a physical challenge that I enjoyed,” he declared.

According to the former Canadian technical director who served in that position for 19 years, he played for England’s national under-23 team. “I played, refereed and coached, and as a player, I played in the English system with the national under-23 team, then I moved on to Canada and played in the Canada system. I did not play for Canada, but I warmed the bench in a game against Italy in the early 80s.”

Jones also captained the Ontario Provincial team which won the national championships, then he went into coaching top teams and did refereeing too.

His main contribution in Canada was being the technical director for 19 years, said Jones, who was appointed Regional Development Manager over four months ago.

Asked what differences there might be in English rugby as against the Canadian style of rugby, Jones was quick to point out “there’s no difference at all, the rules are the same for every country and there is rugby being played at all levels of expertise in every country. There is very good rugby being played in England and in Canada, and there is also some not so very good rugby in both countries, but it’s the same type of people everywhere in the world.”

Jones, a former English high school football player, participated in a practice session with local players at the National Park on Tuesday. He said he enjoyed every minute of the session: “I really enjoyed the session because I felt comfortable and at home with rugby people, who were the same kind of people playing the same kind of game, doing the same kind of things, and making the same kind of mistakes.” Jones observed that the rugby in Guyana is not as strong as it is at the top levels in England and Canada but the IRB would like to help this country to improve.