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Bermuda bid for spot in prestigious HK Sevens

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Bermuda’s national rugby team have an added incentive to win the NACRA Sevens Championships with the top team invited to play in the prestigious Hong Kong Sevens.

The Islanders, who won the Caribbean Championships after defeating Guyana earlier this year, will be vying to complete ‘the double’ by becoming the best team at both formats of the game in Barbados next weekend.

Achieving another regional triumph would be a major feat for Bermuda, who are traditionally not as strong at the smaller-sided version of the game, finishing a disappointing seventh when they last competed two years ago.

Having won the tournament for the past four years, Guyana will start as favourites although Bermuda coach Lawrence Bird expects Trinidad and Bahamas to be among the challengers.

“We would certainly like to win, we’re going down with the aim to win but it’s going to be difficult,” said Bird. “There are some really good teams in this. It would be a good thing to achieve but it’s going to be a lot easier said than done.

“Guyana are very experienced at Sevens; it’s very big for them and the likes of Trinidad and Tobago. Bahamas have also really come on at Sevens.”

While Bermuda have largely focused on the more traditional 15-a-side game, Bird suspects many Caribbean countries have instead concentrated on developing Sevens, a quicker version of the game, which “plays to their strengths”.

He accepts Bermuda have some ground to make up on their rivals at the seven-a-side version but believes his young and hungry squad can compete against the region’s best.

“The 15s isn’t as well developed in the Caribbean as the Sevens, which is a bit of shame,” Bird said.

“To some degree I think (the Caribbean nations) have developed Sevens at the expense of the 15s whereas Bermuda, to some degree, has developed the 15s at the expense of Sevens. That’s a balance we’re trying to address.

“There are some great athletes in the Caribbean, there’s no doubt about that and Sevens certainly plays to their strengths.

“We’re taking a good squad down there with some new boys and plenty of local lads. We can do well, we can certainly compete and if we could go all of the way that would be tremendous.”

Bird, whose side have been grouped with USA South, Mexico and Cayman, believes Sevens rugby is growing in importance since being ratified for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. He said the Bermuda Rugby Football Union were committed to improving Sevens on the Island, especially at the youth level.

“We’re very much at a developmental stage with our Sevens rugby,” he said. “We’re having local fixtures between the clubs and we have a league going which we’re mixing among the 15s schedule as well.

“We’re trying to get it into the youth level as well. With Sevens getting into the 2016 Olympics a lot of our 13-year-olds will contending for places in that, so we need to develop it right through.”

The Hong Kong Sevens, which will be held March 23-25, is considered the premier tournament in the International Rugby Board Sevens World Series.

Bermuda’s NACRA Sevens squad: Gareth Williams, Darren Richardson, Kris Furbert, Henry Paddison, Pete Dunlop, Tom Healy, Ian Henderson, Neville Zuill, Andre Landy, Jack Ellison, Aldo Campbell, Patrick Richardson. Physio: Fiona Beckerlegge.

Bermuda's Jack Ellison takes part in a training drill at Somersfield Academy last night ahead of next week's NACRA sevens championship
Preview for Caribbean Rugby Sevens Championships. Bemuda team training shots (Photo by Mark Tatem)

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Published November 04, 2011 at 2:00 am (Updated November 04, 2011 at 9:12 am)

Bermuda bid for spot in prestigious HK Sevens

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