Barnwell challenges sevens squad to get into winning habit
Jamie Barnwell has challenged Bermuda to create a winning mentality in order to achieve their Commonwealth Games qualification aspirations, starting with success in the New York Sevens Tournament this weekend.
In preparation for a Commonwealth Games qualifying tournament in Mexico in February, two squads, totalling 23 players, have been named to compete in the eight-team tournament, split into two groups.
While the primary focus is to build on the foundations of a fourth-placed finish at the Rugby Americas North Sevens tournament in the Turks and Caicos in October, Barnwell, wants his side to get into a winning habit in the build up to next year’s qualifying campaign.
“All in all we have two very strong squads and the expectation is that we are looking to win the tournament,” said the head coach, who will not be making the trip after being denied permission to travel by the government, due to Covid-19 regulations owing to his occupation as a teacher. “We want to do that by also learning from previous experience, that’s also part of the objective.
“I also want the guys to go there and play with a little more freedom because it isn’t a win-at-all-costs tournament. However, if we are serious about qualifying for the Commonwealth Games then we have to start winning tournaments ahead of February and create that winning mindset, that is key,” he said.
Barnwell welcomed the depth of the talent pool and says he is looking forward to the return of several players who missed out on the team’s last assignment.
“What’s really great is that we are in a position where we have great numbers for a sevens squad and these are really the best players available right now for Bermuda.
“Obviously with our goal of qualifying for the Commonwealth Games it is key that we get back to playing as much Sevens,” Barnwell said.
“There are 12 players coming back into the squad who were not in Turks and Caicos and the expectation is that we learn from the last time and manage to implement all of our new players into the group and give everyone as much game time as possible.”
While his own omission from the travelling party is a notable one, Barnwell instead looked at the setback in a philosophical manner, with the opportunity for his players to take greater responsibility of their own in-game management and decision making.
“With me not being able to go it does give us an opportunity to be much more player-centred in terms of decision making and it is something that I highlighted with the guys from the outset,” he added. “I want us to get to a position where I’m not needed to go on at half-time and make decisions, I want the players themselves to be able to make all the decisions.
“I feel the role of the coach is to set the team up and know what he wants from them but the players have to be able to manipulate and manoeuvre those plans throughout the games.
“It’s a great opportunity for the players to take a lead in this tournament and that is great because the top teams you will see players developing leadership from within.”
Alex Brown, Jamie Baum, Darren Klein, Dan Cole, Stephan Smit, Jakee Simons, Hadleigh Tucker, Trae Stevens, Tyler Kendall, Khabir Dill, Corey Boyce, Chris Mewett, Tashon De Silva, Jahniko Francis, Mikey Dill, Cameron De St Croix, David Lunn, Rory O’Kelly Lynch, Dzuri Gill, Bertie Horsfield, Alex Doyling, Faison Augustus, Antonio Perinchief Leader, Chris Naylor (coach).