The Bahamas men’s national rugby team has quite a task ahead, with the North American Caribbean Rugby Association (NACRA) Sevens Championships rapidly approaching.
The championships, set for November 14-15 in Mexico City, Mexico, serves as a qualifier for more than three tournaments next year. A win will automatically qualify the Bahamas men’s team for the Commonwealth Games, USA Sevens and the Pan American Games. A fifth place finish at this tournament or better will qualify Team Bahamas for the Central American and Caribbean Games.
Director of the Bahamas Rugby Football Union (BRFU) Elystan Miles knows that a lot is at risk for the squad, but is confident that they can win the tournament.
“This is the highest stakes we have every played for,” said Miles. “This is the first time that we have ever done it like this, where there are so many different tournaments to qualify for. That is why we are pretty determined to win this. We haven’t seen Guyana, Trinidad or Jamaica and these are pretty much the powerhouses in the region. If everyone fires on all cylinders, I think we have a good chance of winning the whole thing. We have some of the best players in the region. Four guys on our team have played on the West Indies team. That is four of the seven so we have an excellent team here.
“The team has been training very hard, but we also know that Guyana is a very tough team to beat. They have been training hard, so has Trinidad and Tobago, but we’re in the best shape that we have ever been in, even though I am pretty sure that these other countries are going to be too.”
The Bahamas will play out of Pool A with Guyana and the Cayman Islands. For the first time, The Bahamas will also enter a women’s squad. The team is expected to play against host country Mexico, which will also be entering a women’s team for the first time. Other teams include Trinidad and Tobago, the Cayman Islands, Jamaica and Guyana.
Miles knows that it is going to be a tough debut for the women’s squad, however he believes that they can compete with the other teams in the region. He said: “It is going to be a real fight for the girls. There are five women teams competing, all the other teams they have competed in the past, but really, we are looking for them to place. We know that Guyana is really strong in both men and women and they are pretty experienced. Our men, they have a chance of winning the tournament, but this is the first time for our women’s team. If they can go out there and get a couple of hits in, we would be very happy.
“We had a team come over from the states to play them in the summer and they did well. The biggest challenge for them is getting competition. Because we only have one team here, it is very hard for the girls to find competition. They’ve been training and have played some games with the men. The men’s team have been pretty hard on them, but they’ve been holding up pretty well.”
The executive members will announce the team members on Saturday after the final seven-a-side match, at the Winton Rugby Field. The match is scheduled to start at 1:00 p.m. ( Note this is an old post form oct 29th so please don’t show up saturday !!)