Guyana to host rugby play-offs By Michael DaSilva Stabroek News

October 3, 2003

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Guyana has been chosen to host the final of the North America West Indies Rugby Association’s (NAWIRA) Under-18 play-offs to determine the team to represent the hemisphere at the 2004 under-19 Rugby World Cup in South Africa.

The play-offs are scheduled for December 12, 13 and 14 this year.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday at Olympic House, Guyana Rugby Football Union’s president Kit Nacimento said “We have been selected in recognition of our administrative capabilities to host the under-18 finals and will play against Rugby USA and the winner of the Caribbean North Qualifying play-off billed for the Bahamas on November 1 and 2.”

“I’m very proud of the fact that we have been chosen to host the finals. It will be an enormous challenge and we will be looking for a major sponsor to host the finals,” Nascimento said.

Nascimento said the winners of the NAWIRA qualifier in December will represent the Region in the Under-19 World Cup in South Africa next year.

In their Southern Round qualifier against Trinidad and Tobago on September 27 and 28 in Port of Spain, Guyana defeated their hosts 13-10 in the first game and drew 5-5 in game two, thereby qualifying for the final against the winner of the Northern Round, which will be played between Bahamas, Jamaica, Cayman Islands and Rugby USA.

Nascimento hailed Guyana’s achievement as “ample evidence of the success of Guyana’s Schools Development programme.”

“Earlier this year our under-16’s played Trinidad and drew the first game but lost the second and now we take an under-18 team to Trinidad and came out victors.” Nascimento boasted.

“Team captain Oscar Prince made a huge difference to the team. He was not only recognised by us but by other knowledgeables of the game,” Nascimento admitted.

According to the GRFU president, Trinidad started a Schools Development Programme approximately 15 years ago while the GRFU started their’s three years ago, “three years before that we would not have been able to field a team,” Nascimento pointed out.

GRFU’s Senior Vice-President and Technical Director of the under-18 team Noel Adonis, said the local lads showed commitment and heart “It was really something to watch. The commitment and heart of the entire team was great and it was a significant achievement for us, it was an important victory, since the last time we won a game against Trinidad on their home turf was in 1981,” Adonis said.

That year Guyana defeated Trinidad in a McGregor CUP match. The team’s captain then was Adonis himself.

Adonis opined that it was the forwards that kept the locals in contention in both games and added:”but I think we are still to see our backs performing.”

“Our strategy in both games and more so in the second game was to play in opponents half of the field all the time.”

Team manager and former national player, John Lewis, who gave a description of both games said, their intention was to win the first game and they did but had hoped to win by a wider margin.

Lewis, like Nascimento and Adonis, praised the players for their commitment and discipline and said there were no major problems.

According to the NAWIRA Development Officer Niall Brooks’ report, both Trinidad and Guyana played with great enthusiasm throughout the two games.

“Rugby is a growing game, it’s expanding and from Guyana’s point of view we are now competitive with any West Indies under-18 team,” Nascimento declared.

Nascimento used the opportunity to congratulate the Schools Development coaches: “It was a considerable achievement of our coaches working with the schools,” he stated.

He also pointed out that of all the West Indies Unions, GRFU is the only one that use the financial assistance it gets from the international body to pay its coaches. “We chose to upgrade our local coaches and pay them a salary. We think it’s the better way to go. Some unions believe in foreign coaches, which is good for the short term but long term is what we choose,” Nascimento said.

Nascimento, Rugby USA is rated among the top 15 rugby playing nations in the world and it will be a considerable challenge for the locals to get past them in the December finals.

Meanwhile, a national senior seven’s squad is to be selected by weekend to play in the Annual Carib International Seven’s slated for Trinidad.

Guyana are the plate holders, having lost in the quarter finals last year, but went on to win the Plate. “This year we hope to reach at least the semi-final. We will be playing against some of the top teams from around the world,” Nascimento said.