Like the surface of rugby field at the National Park, the year 2018 was a rocky one for the Guyana Rugby Football Union and its players.
But despite tumbling in the 15s rankings, losing the Regional 7s Championships once again to Jamaica and being in the ‘red’, the union and its players have not dropped the ball and look forward to a resurgent 2019.
According to President of the Union, Peter Green, the performance of Guyana’s Men’s National Team known as the ‘Green Machine’ suffered tremendously primarily as a result of the continued inability to access its only traditionally known playing field located at the National Park these past 18 months due to the lack of urgency by the National Sports Commission’s undertaking to develop an all-weather ground.
He stated that subsequent dependence on the use of the National Parks Athletics field proved to be unsuitable for the majority of the year as a result of muddy conditions during the rainy season.
Green said some of the issues to be tackled next year include, the lack of warm up matches and non-existent significant financial support from the Sports Ministry apart from tax waivers. He emphasized that the realization of an internationally accepted facility to house rugby as well as the fulfilling of promises made to support sports must be addressed in 2019.
Green added that the union hopes that the Minister Responsible for Sport will grant an early meeting to address proposals to improve conditions leading to better performances in order for the sport to realize its full potential at the World and Olympic levels.
According to information reaching this daily, the union has completed audited accounts up to the year 2017. Presently the union is in the red, indebted to its travel agency as well as auditors. Fund raising activities have been scheduled for early next year to address the issues.
XV (Fifteens) Format.
The year 2018 saw Guyana along with Mexico participating in the inaugural Americas XV Challenge Series featuring the top two tier two teams from both North and South America. The ‘Green Machine’ lost to higher ranked Colombia and Paraguay by historically large margins as well as a closely fought final match against lower ranked Mexico resulting in a fall in rankings from 49 to 57. Lower ranked Caribbean teams Mexico, Cayman Islands, Trinidad and Tobago have gained higher ranking as a consequence.
Guyana will play in the RAN 2018 XV Championships versus the Cayman Islands on February 9, 2019 in the Cayman Islands for the right to participate in the 2019 Americas Challenge Championships. The loser to be relegated to the RAN Championships.
VII (Sevens) Format
An understrength Men’s National team fielding several new youth players participated at the CACSO Games in Barranquilla, Colombia returning without hardware despite being the only team to beat eventual gold medalist, Colombia.
At the Rugby America’s North (RAN) Championships and Qualifier to the 2019 Pan American Games in Barbados, an almost full strength Guyana outfit played unbeaten, going into the final where they once again lost to nemesis Jamaica in the dying seconds of the game but qualified for the Pan American Games in Peru.
Meanwhile, the Junior Men’s U/19 Team did not participate in any international competition at the RAN XV / VII Championships due to financial constraints.
On the distaff side, the Women’s senior National Team participated in the RAN Championships in Barbados with creditable results, despite failing to place in the top two.
The union was able to run off several first-division competitions in between preparations and training for the various international tournaments. The Premier 15s, round-robin tournament, the Bounty Farm XV’s was won by the Guyana Defence Force while the Hairoun Beer and Ansa Mc Al Calypso Sevens tournaments were both won by the Pepsi Hornets being the highlights.
Development, Training and Education.
Despite the ongoing challenges of playing facilities and access to Regions apart from Region Four as well as migration by experienced administrators, development of the next generation youth players and administrators through several initiatives and programmes were carried out in partnership with World Rugby. The Regional Body Rugby Americas North, the Guyana Olympic Committee, the Ministry of Education and a core group of dedicated supporters of Rugby in the Private and Corporate sector.
Amongst these ongoing initiatives and programmes were
Youth Base Get into Rugby training and education weekly programs involving players from schools and communities (ages of 8 to 16) in the try, play and stay stages moving them from tag to contact rugby. A total of 163 participants were registered in three festivals spread over twelve months supervised by the Program Director and Union development Officers. Workshops were also held with input from local certified coaches and the Regional Manager of the Get into Rugby Programme.
Ran Regional Player Welfare Program was strengthened through the attendance by the National Female Team’s Physiotherapist at an immediate care level 2 course in Miami.
RAN Regional Referee and Coaches Educator Program in Jamaica was attended by two local Referee and Coach representatives.
Administratively the Senior Vice President of the Union was given the opportunity to represent and gain valuable hands on experience at the RAN Regional annual conference in Miami which dealt with Planning and related matters.