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Sevens teams prepare for Olympic qualifier

Bermuda’s national rugby sevens teams are preparing for their return to the Rugby America’s North competition in the Cayman Islands from July 6 to 7.

This year’s tournament serves as a regional qualification event for the Games of the XXXII Olympiad Tokyo 2020 with the top men’s team securing a place to compete in the Olympic Games.

The top two women’s teams and second and third place men’s teams will qualify for the World Rugby Olympic Repechage tournament hosted in Monte Carlo in 2020, allowing them to compete for a place in the Tokyo Olympics.

With only 12 spots available in both the men’s and women’s national teams, both will undergo a further selection process before the travelling squads are chosen. As an Olympic qualifying year, the Bermuda Rugby Football Union must send teams comprised of Bermudian status-holders only.

After a notable third-place finish in 2018, Bermuda’s men’s team are up against stiff competition in the form of Canada, Mexico and Barbados in pool play with the opportunity to advance into the quarter-final.

“This is a very exciting time for the Bermuda 7s team, as we look to build on our success in 2018,” said Tom Healy, men’s sevens coach.

“Only five of the prior years team will return, so our group will look very different. We are very aware of the challenge that is before us this year but welcome the opportunity to test ourselves against the best teams in our region.”

The women’s tournament will see Bermuda face off against Mexico, Trinidad & Tobago, Jamaica, St Lucia and Bahamas. With a recent injection into the local contact programme, the women’s team is optimistic about their upcoming performance.

“We are looking forward to seeing how some of the new players go for us,” said Jamie Barnwell, the women’s coach. “The new players are starting to force their way in and put pressure to get into the squad. No matter what happens we know how tough the tournament will be.”

On the increased numbers within the senior national teams, Jonathan Cassidy, director of sevens added, “Our coaching teams have done an incredible job bringing so many new players up to our senior national teams since we returned from the 2018 RAN Sevens last October.

“This puts us in good stead for our first ever Olympic qualifier, but more importantly the future.

“Our squad will miss the inclusion of core members who don’t have the right paperwork and because they don’t meet the new minimum age limit of 17.

“While both restrictions are disappointing, we are ready for the next level of tournaments that comes with being one of the top teams in the Caribbean including the likes of the Commonwealth Games and opportunities to qualify for the Hong Kong Sevens and the Olympic Games.”