By Emmerson Campbell
The Guyana government will be giving financial support to the tune of US$10,000 towards the participation of the national men’s rugby team at the Pan American championships in Guadalajara, Mexico and the NACRA championships in Barbados.
“I’m very pleased to inform you that the government will be sponsoring us to the tune of US$10,000,” president of the Guyana Rugby Football Union (GRFU) Kit Nascimento announced during a press briefing yesterday in the boardroom of the Guyana Olympic Association (GOA)building on High Street.
The rugby aspect of the Pan Am games will be played on October 29 and 30 while the NACRA championships will be played on November 12 and 13.
The GRFU boss said that he made a direct appeal to President Bharrat Jagdeo, and the president responded in a very positive way.
Nascimento praised the gesture and thanked the government for its intervention.
He noted that if the president did not come on board, the union would have had to make a choice of either participating in the Pan Am Games or the NACRA championships.
“When you are playing at the World class levels which are what we are now doing the cost for participation is extremely burdensome. Even though we’ve had very generous corporate sponsorship, we simply can’t do it unless the government comes on board in a real way.”
Nascimento explained that the cost alone to bring in the three overseas-based players playing professional rugby in England and Australia was the same as the government’s sponsorship. He opined that the government’s sponsorship money will go towards their airfare and other expenses.
Kevin McKenzie (Australia) is expected to arrive in Guyana today while Rupert Giles (England) and Dominic Lespierre (Australia) will join the team when they wing out for Mexico on October 17.
Trinidad-based players Claudius Butts, Richard Staglon and Ronald Mayers arrived in Guyana yesterday.
In addition to receiving US$10,000, the GRFU also received one million dollars from Edward B. Beharry and Company and another million dollars from the International Rugby Board (iRB).
The total which adds up to four million dollars will be enough to participate in both the Pan Am and NACRA championships.
At the Pan Am Games, Guyana will be competing against seven other teams – Argentina, Canada, USA, Chile, Brazil, Uruguay and host country Mexico.
Argentina is the top seed followed by USA, Canada, Uruguay, Chile, Guyana, Brazil and Mexico respectively.
The eight teams will be divided into two pools, A and B.
Pool A consists of USA, Uruguay, Guyana and Mexico while Pool B is made up of Argentina, Canada, Chile and Brazil.
The national rugby side will open their campaign against Uruguay with the top two teams from each pool qualifying for the quarterfinals.
Matches from the quarter-finals onwards will be on a knockout basis.
The national women’s rugby team who are the three times NACRA champions will be defending their championship against 10 other teams. The number one seeded locals will face opposition from St Lucia, Mexico, USA, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Canada, Cayman Islands, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Guadeloupe.
Group A will consist of Guyana, St Lucia, Mexico, USA and Barbados, while Group B will consist of Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Canada, Cayman Islands, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Guadeloupe. The team is not yet named.
Guyana men’s rugby team has won the NACRA championships five times in succession and will be defending their title against 15 other teams.
The local ruggers will enter the championships seeded number one followed by Jamaica, Mexico, Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, Cayman Islands, Barbados, St Lucia, British Virgin Islands( BVI), Martinique, Bermuda, Guadeloupe, St Vincent, USA South, Turks and Caicos and Curacao in that respective order.
The 16 teams will be divided into four pools, A, B, C and D
Pool A consists of Guyana, St Lucia, BVI and Curacao, Pool B will be made up of Jamaica, Barbados, Martinique and Turks and Caicos, Pool C consists of Mexico, Cayman Islands, Bermuda and USA South, while Pool D will be made up of Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, Guadeloupe and St Vincent.
At the briefing was Mike McCormack, Director of Sevens and Chairman of Selectors who announced that the team will be captained by Ryan Gonsalves, while the vice captain will be Walter George.
Also at the briefing were John Lewis, former GRFU president and Match Secretary, Theodore Henry, Assistant Coach/Manager and Troy Yhip, Youth Development Officer (YDO)
The team departs on October 17 and will be coached by Spencer Robinson while the physiotherapist will be Arine Mangar.
The full squad reads:
Walter George – Yamaha Caribs, Richard Staglon – Trinidad & Tobago, Rupert Giles – Overseas (England)
Ryan Gonsalves – Hornets, Claudius Butts – Yamaha Caribs, Kevin McKenzie – Overseas (Australia), Dominic Lespierre – Overseas (Australia), Vallon Adams – Yamaha Caribs, Dwayne Schroeder – GDF, Leon Greaves – Hornets, Ronald Mayers – Trinidad & Tobago, Breon Walks – GDF.
Reserves: Troy Bascom – Hornets, Avery Corbin – GDF, Rickford Cummings – Hornets, Blaize Bailey – Hornets
Rondell Hudson – GDF, O’Neill Charles – Yamaha Caribs.