Tournament experience key for Commonwealth Games qualification aspiration
Jamie Barnwell believes valuable lessons learnt in tournaments such as the just concluded World Rugby Classic, will prove pivotal in the Bermuda Sevens team ultimately achieving their aspiration of qualifying for the Commonwealth Games.
After decades away from the tournament, Bermuda returned in impressive fashion, storming to a 20-5 opening-day victory over Canada, before giving spirited displays in a 24-10 defeat to Lions Legends and a 25-17 loss to unbeaten champions France.
While focus now turns back to the sevens format of the sport, ahead of competing in the New York Sevens Tournament from November 27, Barnwell is adamant that the vital experience gained playing in the World Rugby Classic, will only help to stand those squad members making the trip to the United States in good stead.
“If you would have said at the beginning of the week that this squad would have played that well and competed at this high level throughout the tournament against teams that are that much bigger and more physical, I would have called you crazy, it has been just so good, we’re all so proud,” Barnwell said.
The coach believes that the adjustments and improvements made throughout the tournament will help the players in their future assignments.
“You could see that improvement as the tournament went on and you could see them managing games better by themselves, all those aspects of the game are really important in the development of our players on island.
“We have shown that we have a group of really good players and having the opportunity to play in this sort of tournament we have learnt so much. Playing against different types of oppositions, the lads had to adjust and adapt continuously and hopefully they will take that with them moving forward,” he said.
Experience gained within the Classic, the Rugby Americas North Sevens tournament in the Turks and Caicos, previously in October, and within the upcoming New York Sevens tournament, are all part of a bigger picture of helping the island’s players prepare for a Commonwealth Games qualifying tournament in Mexico in February.
“We have a group of 24 players, two squads of 12, ready for the trip to New York and again it is another great opportunity to play in competition where it won’t be a case of having to win at all costs,” Barnwell said.
He pointed out that the focus will be to develop as a unit as opposed to securing results.
“For us it will be a tournament to try and improve as a squad, build on what we did last month in the Turks and Caicos, develop that and try and keep pushing on.
“It will also serve as another preparation campaign for our Commonwealth Games qualifying tournament in February. All of these tournaments are part of the building process and that journey towards trying to qualify for the Commonwealth Games,” said Barnwell.