The men’s Sevens unit winning their eighth Regional title and the return to international competition by the U19 outfit were no doubt the high points for local rugby in 2016.
After securing their eighth title in Trinidad last November, the national men’s squad dubbed the ‘Green Machine’ once again qualified to participate at one of the World’s most prestigious Sevens tournaments in Hong Kong.
During the tournament in April, the team will have an opportunity to hone its skills against the world’s best. They will also receive much-needed practice prior to playing this year’s Caribbean Sevens championships which will serve as the qualifier for the 2018 World Cup Sevens and the Commonwealth Games.
The year 2016 saw the Guyana Rugby Football Union (GRFU) continuing its goal of seeing the sport being played in every school and community within the 10 regions.
In 2016, there was the hosting of a successful five-day workshop imvolving over 60 participants from 33 schools, communities and club-based player membership who have been tasked with introducing the skills and knowledge of the game within their respective regions.
The initiative was a partnership with the Ministry of Education along with assistance from World Rugby via Regional GIR Co-coordinator Kwanieze John and it culminated in a pilot mini festival/school championship in December which attracted in excess of 190 male and female participants.
The GRFU has now been able to identify and correct several organizational errors and shortcomings in time for the launching of the 2017 Schools Championships and has acknowledged the dedication of its Volunteers and Development Officers towards this achievement.
In 2016, there was also the resuscitation of an MOU with the Argentina Government in tandem with the Ministry of Education to prepare a blueprint for cooperation and long term involvement of High Performance Rugby training and development. Despite the loss to Mexico, the methods introduced by the Argentina Coach were well received by the national players necessitating a much longer involvement and period of adjustment for tangible results. The GRFU, in a press release stated that it wished to acknowledge and thank the Ambassador of Argentina to Guyana as well as the Senior Minister of Sport along with the Guyana Olympic Association and the GRFU Patron for the combined support towards making available the Argentine Coach at short notice for the RAN Championship final which also served as the 2019 15s World Cup qualifier.
The year 2016 saw once again the lack of substantial funding for the GRFU and its players.
Despite the sterling efforts and successful track record of the Guyanese ruggers, lack of meaningful support at the highest level towards the realization of an internationally accepted facility to house rugby for well over two decades coupled with insufficient funding to cover the costs of High Performance/Elite Training and participation in support of the national teams annually has contributed in no uncertain terms to the sport being prevented from realizing its full potential at the World and Olympic levels. Significantly, with Sevens rugby now accepted as an Olympic sport, it has become compellingly urgent that the government of the day invest in the requisite tangible support.
Given the right resources the national Sevens ruggers can perhaps play their way to an Olympic medal placing by 2024. In its release, the executive committee, players and general membership of the GRFU stated that it wished its dedicated sponsors, supporters, volunteers and stakeholders who have held the sport together a prosperous new year.