Guyana crowned Caribbean junior rugby champions By Leeron Brumell
Guyana Chronicle
December 12, 2003

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GUYANA’S Under-18 national rugby champions have been crowned West Indies/Caribbean junior Champions after a 2-0 penalty victory over Jamaica yesterday at the National Park field.

After being drawn at 6-6 at the end of regulation time, the game was forced into penalty kicks, since no extra time is given in the junior version of the game.

Guyana took the first of five allotted penalty drop kicks and missed, so too did Jamaica.

Guyana’s hero Ryan Hinckson who had earlier scored the two penalty kicks for his team took the second penalty and put the team ahead; Jamaica missed and gave the homeboys hope.

Guyana’s captain Oscar Prince, who was flown here from New York compliments of BWIA for the game, took a less than perfect penalty kick which, from the looks of it, was no good, however, luck was on the side of the locals as the ball went through the ‘H’ (goal). Even the referees seemed surprised that it was good.

Jamaica missed the fourth and the rest was history. There was jubilation from all-round the open field.

The Jamaicans are the Northern Zone winners and Guyana, the Southern.

Earlier in the game, the burly Jamaicans went ahead 3-0 with a penalty kick from Kemar Gray from the 22-metre line into the northern goal giving them the halftime lead.
When play resumed in the second half which was more hotly contested, the Guyanese attacked from all angles -- though lagging behind at times -- and levelled the score at 3, through a Ryan Hinckson penalty some 26 metres out.

Guyana attempted a number of tries thereafter and were unsuccessful with one getting some 10 metres outside the Jamaican goal, but they managed to keep the Guyanese out.

Some 15 minutes before game time, Jamaica again, through Wray, went ahead due to another penalty kick but the Guyanese answered again a few minutes before wrap-up time when the rain returned to take off some of the heat from the game.

The goal came some 28 metres out, again from Hinckson.

Manager of the Guyana team John Lewis said that it was a well-deserved victory for the team.

“I think it was a very good win, coming against these guys who had more weight.

We knew it would have been difficult to win against them so we tried some running plays, as we seemed to be fitter than they are.

I think we progressively wore them down especially in the second half.”
Lewis however noted that they missed a few penalties that could have given them victory by a bigger margin.

Meantime, the Jamaican coach, Kevin Gordon, was fuming at the referees for what he said were ‘questionable calls’.

Gordon, a former national player said that there were some odd penalty calls while the timing of the game was all wrong.

He said that he was told there was one minute of play left before regulation time, but the teams played for another 10 minutes instead.

Referee in charge of the action, Anthony Pontiflette, said that Gordon’s claims were unsubstantiated.

“I understand that he’s disappointed with the loss, but the calls were not wrong and the timing was right.”

Pontiflette said that he was open for discussion with the coach, but if not he knows the procedure of appealing.

On the brighter side however, Gordon said that the teams played well.

“I think both teams played well, on the field; they were very competitive. The defence and attacking were excellent.”

Gordon said that they would go back to the drawing board ahead of today’s game against the United States juniors.

“There was nothing really wrong with us today, we played well. We should have won, but we will rethink our strategy.”

Today signals the start of the North American West Indian Rugby Association (NAWIRA) Under-18 qualifiers for the World Cup Under-19 event set for South Africa next year.

The event will be held during the Easter vacation.

Guyana, Jamaica and the U.S. will be battling for the final spot. The winner will be decided on points according to president of the Guyana Rugby Football Union (GRFU) Kit Nascimento.

Nascimento noted that the hosting of the event was made possible by a donation of US$33 000 that was given by the International Rugby Board (IRB) and sponsorship from GT&T and Banks DIH Limited.

BWIA has given discounted tickets to the teams.

Regional Development Officer Tom Jones and Development Planning Officer Neil Brooks are also here for the tournament.

The event was declared open by Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport Gail Teixeira.

The qualifiers conclude tomorrow at the same venue.