After several quiet years, rugby takes Guyana by storm

Despite the national rugby teams’ successes in previous years, the sport flew under the radar on the local scene until it hosted two major tournaments in 2010: the NACRA Championships and the Rugby Sevens tournament of the CAC Games at the Providence stadium.

Overall, the Sevens team played in four major international tournaments; none more rewarding than the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games and North American and Caribbean Rugby Association (NACRA) Championships where both the women’s and men’s teams emerged victorious, establishing themselves as forces to be reckoned with in the Region.

The season kicked off with the team delivering a good but unremarkable performance in the International Rugby Board (IRB) Sevens World Series in Las Vegas in February. Their most successful performance at the tournament came when they held France to a draw in the final game.

On their return home they demonstrated the supremacy of their skills in the Region hauling in a number of gold medals. The win at the CAC Games was historic as Guyana’s team was the first national team to have secured a gold medal at the Games. It also led to them securing a place in the 2010 Commonwealth Games for the first time, later in the year. This milestone was important too as it was the first time that rugby was being contested at the Commonwealth Games since being accepted as an Olympic sport and being included in the roster for the 2012 Olympic Games.

The Sevens team added the win in the finals of the NACRA tournament that immediately followed to its string of successes. They beat Jamaica in extra time in a repeat of the CAC Games rugby Sevens final while the local men’s team also captured the gold medal against Jamaica. This success secured the national men’s Sevens team a place at this year’s Pan American Championships, which will be contested in Guadalajara, Mexico.

The women’s national Sevens team followed closely in the footsteps of their male counterparts in their NACRA Championships by winning the tournament for the third year in a row. They got past some of the regions most challenging rugby nations and having qualified for the Commonwealth Games, the team the national Sevens team departed for India to tackle greater forces at the Commonwealth Games. However, they lost all the games in their battle against a pool comprising New Zealand, Scotland and Canada.

The Guyana Rugby Football Union (GRFU) later attributed their poor performance to indiscipline among some of the players on the team and advised that action would be taken against the players. In November it suspended three national players that it said tainted the Union’s near spotless and disciplined reputation. Players were suspended for periods ranging from nine months to two years.

However, the national Sevens teams and the GRFU continue to look toward the future and the development of the sport as it continues to gain momentum. In addition this year’s Pan American Games, the national Sevens team is set to participate in the IRB Sevens World Series in Las Vegas in February.

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