Rugby team looking to build on performances in New York
Bermuda’s rugby team warmed up for their Commonwealth Games qualifying assignment in February with two teams reaching the semifinal and final in the New York Sevens Tournament last weekend.
The Bermuda Sevens team reached the final where they lost to Met New York 20-19 while the Bermuda team lost in the semi-finals to the same team 17-15.
“The agonising thing was the Bermuda team had a penalty on their five metre line with about 20 seconds to go and normally in those instances you can take a penalty and kick it over the post for three points,” explained national coach Jamie Barnwell.
“We were not thinking clearly enough in that situation and ended up chucking it to some guy who got stopped and a penalty was given the other way.”
Barnwell, who was unable to make the trip, said it was a good tournament for the Bermuda team ahead of Commonwealth Games qualifying matches in Mexico in February.
“In our division there were twelve sides in total and this was the first time that we’ve made a cup final in a long time, certainly over eight years,” Barnwell revealed.
“It was really important for us to get back to playing Sevens after we took time out from the Sevens programme to play in the [World Rugby] Classic, which was great and Bermuda was needed to make the Classic happen.
“The problem for us was we didn’t have an opportunity to build on from Turks and Caicos where we narrowly missed out on making the final. We’re preparing for Mexico in February, an opportunity to qualify for the Commonwealth Games.”
Barnwell is in the process of finalising the squad that will make the trip to Mexico.
“We had twelve players in this group who didn’t go to Turks and Caicos so it was important to get them back involved with the team,” he revealed.
“Now we’ve got to kick on and the hard work really starts now over Christmas and into January. We have selected 16 players for Mexico but only 12 can actually go.
“It is called the Super Sevens, and if you come first you go to the Commonwealth Games in June in Birmingham and if you come in the top four you get invited to the Challenger Series, which is made up of Brazil and Chile, nations that have got full time programmes.”
Barnwell expects to face the top teams from the Caribbean region in Mexico.
“There are twelve countries that make up the Caribbean region and Jamaica will probably go into that as the favourites,” he explained.
“Then there is Mexico and we are probably right behind Mexico. There is Turks and Caicos who are normally pretty good, so there is a lot to play for.
“Bottom line is we’re there or thereabouts, and we’ve got a bit of work to do. It’s a challenging month from December to January when everybody is going to want to take a break and enjoy Christmas.
“But we’re going to hit it harder than we’ve ever hit it. I’m about to reach out to football to see if we can challenge the men’s football team to a fitness challenge in January. It will give us something to aim for.”