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Bermuda aim for top spot at under-19 tournament in Mexico

Aiming higher: Bermuda Under-19 rugby team (Photograph supplied)

Chris Naylor, the Bermuda Under-19 rugby coach, has set ambitious goals for his team at the Rugby Americas North tournament in Querétaro, Mexico.

Bermuda finished third in last year’s competition in Jamaica after a narrow 7-6 triumph over Trinidad & Tobago secured a bronze medal, but Naylor is hopeful of better this time.

“We’ve got ambitions to do well in this tournament,’’ Naylor told The Royal Gazette.

“We want to progress because two years ago we came fourth. Last year we came third and this year we want to go for the top spot.

“Those are our ambitions at the moment, but we also have to respect the opposition because they’re pretty good, so we’ll see what happens.

“We were really pleased with coming third last year, with just USA South and Jamaica above us.”

Following the withdrawal of Jamaica because of the after-effects of Hurricane Beryl, five teams are competing this year, with the sides to play each other in a round-robin format, with matches consisting of two 20-minute halves.

Bermuda will play two matches today, the first day of the tournament, against host nation Mexico and Trinidad & Tobago. They then face USA South on tomorrow morning and Cayman Islands in the afternoon.

The medal play-offs will take place on Friday, with a fixture also being arranged against a Mexico select squad for the team who finish fifth.

“The opening day is going to be a tough one because Mexico, although they didn’t play last year, beat us for the bronze medal in 2022,’’ Naylor said.

“They beat us quite comprehensively, so they’re a really good, well-drilled team, but hat was two years ago and we have improved since then.

“We are expecting Mexico to be pretty good and they’ll obviously be well supported because they’re playing at home.

“We beat Trinidad & Tobago last year in the bronze-medal match, but we beat them by just a point. They will always bring in a lot of athleticism, so they’re going to be tough to beat as well.

“Everyone in the tournament is going to be strong, but we have a really good squad. We are happy with our preparations and the boys are enjoying Mexico as well, which is nice.

“It’s pretty hot here and we’re playing at altitude so we’re yet to see whether that affects match situations.”

Ten players from 2023 are back as part of this year’s squad with five members of the team, captain Brandon Sangster, Samir Tavares, Aiden Kendall, Nathan Wilson and Malachi Paynter, part of the senior side that played against Cayman Islands, Jamaica and Bahamas recently.

“This year we have ten players in their final year,” Naylor added. “They’re born in 2005 and we feel this is the strength of our team because we’ve never had this many 19-year-olds in the squad.

“We hope that maturity is going to raise our game a bit and we’re able to handle our adversities. There’s a difference between a good 19-year-old and a good 16-year-old, so we’re hoping that our core of 19-year-olds will lead the way and do well.

“Our captain, Brandon Sangster, is 18 so he’s got another year in the squad and will be playing again next year.”

Bermuda Rugby Football Union president Gemma Godfrey has wished the team success in Mexico.

“This team has worked incredibly hard in preparation for this tournament, and I’m confident they’ll make us proud with a strong performance this week,” she said.

“I would also like to express our deepest gratitude to the team’s sponsors, Coralisle Group Ltd, for their support of our athletes. Their backing has been instrumental to the squad’s development and helps make all of this possible.”


Osiris Buffonge-Hunt

Luke Summers

Matthew Groves

Sam Jenkins

Aiden Kendall

Daniel Kunst

Oliver MacLoughlin

Thomas MacLoughlin

Cameron Morris

Kwame Naylor

Dante Noel-Simmons

Malachi Paynter

Samir Tavares

Yann Pugi

Brandon Sangster

Dylan Sangster

Nyindae Smith

Wysdem Symonds

Finn Watson

Nathan Wilson

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Published July 10, 2024 at 7:56 am (Updated July 10, 2024 at 7:36 am)

Bermuda aim for top spot at under-19 tournament in Mexico

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