Bermuda rugby sevens team equal best finish and earn place at CAC Games
Bermuda’s rugby sevens head coach Jamie Barnwell heaped praise on his side after they secured qualification to the Central American and Caribbean Games with an equal best third-place finish at the Rugby Americas North Super Sevens tournament in Mexico.
Having cruised through the group stage and topping pool C after a 26-12 opening victory over Dominican Republic, a hard-fought 14-12 success over Barbados and a 48-0 thrashing of Belize, Bermuda built on that success when brushing aside Trinidad and Tobago 12-5 in the quarter-finals.
That set up a semi-final clash against the highly-fancied Mexico for a place not only in the final but a chance to reach the World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series and gain automatic qualification to the Pan American Games.
Despite a valiant effort Bermuda ultimately fell to a 22-14 defeat and a place in the third-place play-off against Cayman Islands and with it a guaranteed spot in next year’s Central American and Caribbean Games in El Salvador.
Despite the disappointment of narrowly missing out on reaching the final, Bermuda responded superbly and capped off the tournament with a thrilling 19-14 victory in extra time to clinch third place and match their best finish in a RAN Sevens tournament in Barbados in 2018.
“The guys have done fantastically well and I’m just over the moon with them,” said Barnwell. “We narrowly missed out on reaching a first final and only lost one game, which was really close and we almost came back with an unbelievable second half.
“Finishing third has equalled the best we’ve ever done in a Sevens event, which is fantastic and has also qualified us for the Central American and Caribbean Games and that is really exciting.
“As a squad we’ve evolved so much and learnt so much. They are doing some cracking stuff and I’m just so proud of them all.”
The tournament in Mexico also gave Bermuda’s women’s Sevens team some valuable learning experience.
Competing in a six-team round-robin format over two days, Bermuda Kicked off the tournament with a 39-0 defeat against Trinidad & Tobago, before falling to a 49-0 loss to Jamaica.
Further defeats to Dominican Republic (34-0) and regional powerhouses Mexico (52-0) followed before Bermuda managed to score their first try, albeit in another loss, going down 29-5 to St Lucia to wrap up the round-robin stage.
That set up a rematch against the Dominican Republic in a fifth-place play-off in which Bermuda gave a spirited display but went down to a 24-10 defeat.
“It was a great learning experience for our women’s team in what was their first competitive action since Covid and with a lot of new players,” added Barnwell.
“While six of the women’s teams have folded in the Caribbean region, they are one of the previous 12 who have kept going and two of those still playing are World Circuit teams in Mexico and Jamaica. Just to still have a team and competing at this level is pretty amazing.”