What more does rugby have to do to earn and deserve full, unqualified national support and funding?
This was the question asked by former president of the Guyana Rugby Football Union (GRFU), Kit Nascimento on Wednesday night during a reception at Duke Lodge to celebrate the NACRA 15s championship.
Guyana stormed back from a 24-8 half time deficit to defeat USA South 30-27 in Atlanta last month to lift the champion’s trophy.
Nascimento, who coordinated the reception for the players and the top brass of the union, highlighted that the ruggers’ achievements trump any local team sport and called on the government and stakeholders to lend more support for Guyana’s most successful contemporary discipline.
“The Guyana Rugby Union and Guyana’s Rugby Teams, over the past eight years, have delivered, by far, the most successful performance in any sport in the country. Yet they continue to struggle for national recognition and national funding”, Nascimento argued.
He then expounded on some of the achievements.
“Guyana’s National Men’s Sevens Rugby Team, from 2006 to 2012, won the North America & Caribbean Rugby Association (NACRA) Sevens Championships for six successive years.
This same team was the first to qualify to represent the Caribbean at the iRB Sevens World Series in Las Vegas in 2010 and again in 2011. Guyana’s Sevens Team was the first to qualify and the only Caribbean sports team to represent the Caribbean at the Commonwealth Games in 2010 and the Pan American Games in 2011.
Guyana’s Sevens Team was the first to represent the Caribbean at the HSBC iRB Rugby Sevens World Series in Hong Kong, the premier tournament of the Series.
The Rugby Union hosted the first Central American and Caribbean Games Rugby Sevens in 2010 and Guyana’s Team won the first and only Gold Medal, so far, won by Guyana in the CAC Games.
Guyana’s Women Rugby Sevens Team won the Caribbean Women’s Sevens Championships for three years in succession.”
Nascimento explained that Guyana’s rugby achievements have put the nation on the international sporting map and it has competed at a world class level that no other sport has achieved. He then stated that competing at world class levels has world class costs attached to it.
“The Rugby Union in 2013, without government support, found itself virtually bankrupted and was unable to meet the cost of participating in the NACRA Sevens Championships, a tournament it would probably have won, and was disqualified from participation.
As we speak, Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago, rugby Sevens teams regularly beaten by Guyana, are representing the Caribbean at the Commonwealth Games.
The Union, nevertheless, with the help of corporate sponsorship, recovered sufficiently to contest and win the Southern and, now, the NACRA Fifteens Championships held in Atlanta, largely made possible by NACRA footing the majority of the bill.”
The former GRFU head then stated that “We have the players we just don’t have the money.”
Nascimento then again asked for more support of the unsung heroes.
While at the reception, former president of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), Clinton Urling said that the team needs to explore branding of the teams while echoing Nascimento’s call for more corporate support.
Brief remarks were also made by president of the union, Peter Green. The ruggers were also presented with hampers from NGPC.