USA and Jamaica for Rugby World Cup qualifier at National Park By Clyde Pestano
Stabroek News
December 11, 2003

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Plans for the Junior Rugby World Cup Finals Qualifier were unveiled yesterday by the GRFU at Olympic House. At the launching were l-r, Raymond Hunte, Marketing Officer GT&T, Noel Adonis, Kit Nascimento Terrence Grant, Niawl Brock (NAWIRA) and John Lewis U

Teams from the USA and Jamaica are expected in Guyana for the Junior Rugby World Cup finals qualifiers, which are to played at the National Park rugby field from tomorrow to Sunday.

Jamaica are the northern Caribbean champions of the North American and West Indian Rugby Association (NAWIRA) leg of the qualifiers, while Guyana are southern champs. The winners of this final qualifier between the three teams, advance to the Junior World Rugby Championships slated for next year in South Africa.

At a press conference yesterday at Olympic House, president of the Guyana Rugby Football Union (GRFU) Kit Nascimento disclosed that the USA team was expected in the country yesterday evening while Jamaica are due today.

The first game will be held tomorrow and will see hosts Guyana come up against the Jamaicans at 3 pm. On Saturday, USA tackle Jamaica and on Sunday, Guyana take on the USA, both matches also starting at 3 pm. Admission is $300 for adults and $100 for children under 12 years.

BWIA has been designated "Airline of the tournament" and were lauded by Nascimento for their input into the championships. The airline has given ticket reductions to the visiting teams.

The president also noted that funding for the championships has been to a large extent made possible by a grant of 90,500 pounds sterling by the International Rugby Board (IRB).

Nascimento, when asked about contributions from the Ministry of Sport & Culture for the Under-19 tournament, said that he had written to the ministry but was yet to get a response. He added though that the union has secured the services of a bus from the National Sports Commission (NSC) at a nominal fee. The bus will be used throughout the tournament.

He also said that security had been taken care of for the visiting teams with the Guyana Police Force (GPF) being involved.

The president also said his organisation was thankful to the major sponsor GT&T as well as Banks DIH. He said that Guyana wants to host the tournament in a competent and professional manner as well as showcasing what the country has to offer. In that vein, Nascimento mentioned that the Ministry of Tourism will be presenting brochures and other material about Guyana to the visiting teams. The teams will be staying at the Ocean View International Hotel.

John Lewis, manager of the team said that his charges were well prepared, physically fit and ready for the clashes. He revealed that the team would be encamped from today at the St. Paul's Pastoral facility in Vryheid's Lust. The encampment will last for the duration of the tournament and according to Lewis its purpose is to minimise distractions which can affect the team.

Present also at the press conference was Robin Roberts a junior vice president of NAWIRA as well as Development and Planning Officer, Niawl Brock who declared that after seeing Guyana and Jamaica play at the Under-19 level, he anticipated a very competitive opening game.

Regional Commissioner Tom Jones will be the `match commissioner' during the championships while Gareth Calloway from Rugby Canada and Anthony Pontiflette from Trinidad & Tobago will be the referees.

The GRFU president also announced at the press conference that Guyana had placed fifth out of sixteen teams at the recent Caribs International Invitational Sevens tournament held in Trinidad & Tobago last weekend. Guyana went through to the quarterfinals after defeating their three opponents on the first day. On the second day they defeated Police 10-7 but then lost to the eventual second placed team Atlantis from the USA 5-19 and Trinidad & Tobago's Caribs, by a similar margin.

Nascimento said that after the first day's action Guyana were rated as the No.3 team due to their excellent showing but on the second day the team faltered. The president said that their loss was probably due to an absence of mental toughness when it mattered the most. He added that that is something the GRFU would be addressing.

Nascimento said that the next goal of the Guyana team is participation in the West Indies and North American Rugby Sevens championships to be held in the Cayman Islands next year.

However, Guyana did not leave the championships empty handed as they brought home the Larry Mouttet Rugby Club Camaraderie Award. The teams usually vote among themselves to give the award to the team that they felt, best represented the spirit of rugby during the tournament.

Moutett, a Trinidadian, was killed when a small plane carrying himself and some friends crashed off the coast of St. Vincent a few years ago.

Noel Adonis senior vice president of the GRFU described Guyana's showing in the Sevens tournament as "moments of brilliance interspersed with some moments of impatience". He added that the team played below their normal level of competency but at times their game `flowed' nicely. The vice president singled out for special mention, the performance of the under-19 players in the team and pointed out that they played with more freedom and confidence.