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New caps make most of international rugby debuts

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New caps: Aiden Kendall, left, Ja’Kee Simons, Khabir Dill, Robin Brickell, Jake Field, Malachi Paynter, Samir Tavares, Jaime Furtado, Grenville Lines, Mike Keyes, Rory O’Kelly-Lynch, Hadleigh Tucker, Brandon Sangster (Photograph supplied)

After a four-year wait, Bermuda’s rugby players have received their caps after finally able to represent the island in international fifteens rugby.

Before playing Cayman Islands, Jamaica and Bahamas in the last few weeks, Bermuda’s men had last played the bigger version of the game in 2019, with 13 new players receiving caps over the latest round of matches as coaches Brian Archibald and Chris Naylor focused on younger players.

Reflecting on Saturday’s 30-5 victory against Bahamas, Gemma Godfrey, the Bermuda Rugby Football Board president, was pleased with the progress made.

“I couldn't be more proud of our recently reformed Bermuda men’s national fifteens team having rebuilt the programme almost from scratch during the four-year stall that was caused by the pandemic,’’ Godfrey said.

“This win is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our players, coaches and team support, especially our young squad members who have shown remarkable growth.

Greenville Lines, left, one of the new caps with Gemma Godfrey, the Bermuda Rugby Football Union president (Photograph supplied)

“The squad was comprised of 13 international debuts, with five under-19s among their ranks, including Aiden Kendall, Malachi Paynter, Samir Tavares and Nathan Wilson.

“The team's youngest player is Brandon Sangster, who when he isn't playing is often found supporting the game as one of our Sunday Rugby under-6 coaches.

“Our journey through the Rugby America's North three-year qualification pathway has been intense, with hard-fought games against Cayman, Jamaica and most recently, Bahamas, all within a six-week window.

“Each match saw significant improvements in our performance, culminating in the decisive victory against Bahamas.

“This young squad is demonstrating exceptional promise and potential, and their progress is a direct result of the work we are putting in to rebuild our player pathways.

“Elite player development initiatives and the training programmes our coaches Brian Archibald and Chris Naylor have implemented have also played a huge part.”

“In addition to this, the experience gained by our under-19 players from these matches will be invaluable as they prepare for the Rugby Americas North tournament in Mexico next month.

“I’m incredibly excited about the future for this team and confident that with continued effort and support, we will continue to build on this momentum, with our sights set on achieving greater success as we continue in the next stage of the campaign next season.

“The commitment and spirit of our team are truly inspiring, and I look forward to seeing what they can accomplish together.”

Flanker Jamie Baum, one of the senior players in the team, spoke of what it meant to run out in Bermuda colours again

“There is nothing like representing your country and, having not had the opportunity since 2019, it was an awesome experience to play at home with such a great crowd,” he said.

“It was also nice to see so many young players coming through which bodes well for the future.”

Archibald and Naylor now have the task of ensuring the team maintains the momentum until the next international assignments.

“We’re trying to encourage all the players to continue to play, not necessarily through the summer,’’ Archibald said.

“They need to take time off and enjoy the summer but, come August and September, we want the players back playing rugby, week in, week out for their clubs.

“Some of the things that we've been working on for the last ten weeks, they need to take back into training and try to get better.

“Being a rugby player is not a ten-week job, it takes years to get better, so we’re really just scratching the surface in this ten weeks.

“We want them to go away and take what they’ve learnt, put that into practice and maybe work a little bit on themselves.

“Anyone can work when everyone’s watching, it’s what you do when no one is watching that makes a difference.

“Next season we’ll come down, we’ll watch all the games and we’ll take it from there. We’ll have a discussion with the union and then we’ll see what happens.

“Whatever happens, we’ll still have another three games in this tournament next year.”

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Published June 07, 2024 at 7:59 am (Updated June 07, 2024 at 7:36 am)

New caps make most of international rugby debuts

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