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Bermuda sevens squad out to upset odds at Olympic qualifier

Geared up: Bermuda's sevens rugby team is heading off to Canada for the Rugby America North Sevens (Photograph supplied)

Bermuda sevens coach Jamie Barnwell has set his sights on a top-three finish at the Rugby Americas North Olympic qualifier to be held in Langford, Canada, from Saturday.

Bermuda have been placed in a pool with the United States and Mexico, while Canada, Jamaica, Barbados as well as St Vincent & the Grenadines meet in the other group, with the seven teams all vying for the sole RAN qualification place at next year’s Olympics in Paris.

While Barnwell is well aware of the magnitude of trying to upset some of the powerhouses within the region, he has not ruled out qualifying for the Olympic repechage, for teams that finish second and third, which offers another shot at qualification.

A top-three finish would also see Bermuda seal a spot in the prestigious World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series, the second tier competition below the World Rugby Sevens Series.

“The dream is to qualify for the World Rugby Challenger Series,” said Barnwell, whose side finished fourth in the previous Olympic qualifying competition in the Cayman Islands back in 2019, going down to Mexico the third-place play-off.

“We have never beaten Mexico and Jamaica in the same tournament, which we have to do this time around to finish third.

“Winners of the tournament go to the Olympics, two and three go to the repechage. We are looking to do something we have never done before.”

Ahead of the qualifier, the team have enjoyed encouraging preparations, claiming victory at the New England Rugby Football Union Sevens in Boston, before they headed off to the Central American and Caribbean Games where they finished in sixth place.

“Over the past year, we focused on playing more tournaments and on getting better,” added Barnwell, who despite seeing progression in his squad is aware that improvements are still needed in order to achieve their ambitions.

“We are much better in the contact areas, we know it’s difficult to win a tournament at this level, so we have been working hard on the big moments.

“We played Mexico at the CAC Games, we lost 17-14, so if you look at the scores, we have to improve the amount of points we score, at least three tries.

“We also have to win the ball more in the closing stages and limit their turnovers.

“In that match, we were leading 14-12, they scored right at the end to make it 17-14, but we learn from such situations.”

Aiden Kendall and Malachi Paynter, both 18, are two new faces included within the final squad that is travelling to Canada.

The pair have never been capped at senior level, but were part of the under-19 team that won bronze at last month’s RAN tournament in Jamaica.

Despite their relative inexperience, Barnwell is backing the duo to make the step up and continue working towards fulfilling their potential

“They’re both young debutants who have come from the under-19 squad,” Barnwell added.

“They performed well for the under-19s. They have been working hard, are showing promise and might get the opportunity to perform at the next level.”


Alexander Brown, Tashon De Silva (captain), Myles Dismont, Steven Doyling, Jahniko Francis, Michael Kelley, Michael Kendall, Aiden Kendall, Malachi Paynter, Antonio Perinchief, Jakee Simmons, Hadleigh Tucker, Faizon Augustus

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Published August 16, 2023 at 8:00 am (Updated August 16, 2023 at 10:35 pm)

Bermuda sevens squad out to upset odds at Olympic qualifier

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