— says Emmerson Campbell
Guyana’s rugby in 2014 saw a 360 degree turn around from 2013 as the national men’s team’s fortunes became historic and monumental after the team won both the North American and Caribbean Rugby Association (NACRA) 15s and Sevens championships, the former after 43 years.
After being booted from the NACRA 7s tournament last year without taking the field because of lack of funding, the dual champions bounced back with the kind of success that has never been recorded in its history.
The team’s success on and off the field which started at the top, can be attributed to several factors.
The year 2014 saw the return of key administrative players in the history of the Guyana Rugby Football Union (GRFU) to fill the seats of its executive.
Chief amongst them were Terrence Grant (General Secretary), John Lewis (Senior Vice President) and Kit Nascimento (Patron). Working along with the unanimously returned Treasurer (Roger Perreira), the union became a formidable force.
At the player level, the union identified its Youth Development Officers (Theo Henry, Larry Adonis and Troy Yhip) and tasked them with the mandate of taking the game to all levels and regions of the country which they have been doing admirably considering the limited resources and shoe-string budgets.
With the growth of rugby and the impact at the youth levels, the union found itself enjoying the luxury of having teams with depth right down to the reserves on the bench, whether in 15s or the shorter version of the game.
Wisely blending the senior and internationally experienced players with talented upcoming raw youngsters marshaled by the level 2 head coach Henry and coaches Grant Stuart, Clarke, Adonis and Chase, a place on the national team was no longer automatic.
Competition, passion, patriotism as well as president Peter Green’s slogan ‘think with this head’ became the watch words of Guyanese ruggers. The burning need to settle issues with NACRA teams also became the focus and the mission of the union.
Training began early in the year, local competitions were provided that saw rugby being played almost weekly to condition the players to adapt to a new approach and attitude towards their work ethic. No player was bigger than the game. No hurdle was too large to clear. The ruggers dubbed themselves the ‘Green Machine’ and went about their tasks with the support of the administration. This resulted in a transformation and success never witnessed before.
With the backing of the Government of Guyana, the Guyana Olympic Association (GOA), the public and private sector, the Green Machine was able to bring home the bacon and once again make the Golden Arrowhead proud.
The work continues next year as the union will need support as the national team pushes for a 2016 Olympic berth.
I personally feel that a High Performance coach is needed for the team to reach the next level. Whereas Coach Henry and the other local coaches are good but do not benefit from the sort of immediate
international experience to be gained by having someone who has been exposed to that level. We need this for our Road to Rio.
With more exposure at the international level, the need for a foreign coach will be reduced. However, for the Road to Rio we definitely need additional expertise to work with the dreadlocked director. This costs money if we are to compete successfully at the higher level of competition in 2015.
My three wishes for Guyana’s rugby in 2015 include: seeing continued financial support, the men’s team qualifying for the Olympics and seeing both the men’s and women’s teams whether 15’s or 7’s, senior or junior demolish all in their way. (Emmerson Campbell)