(Royal Gazette)The Bermuda sevens team have been set a “realistic target” of winning the Rugby Americas North tournament in Mexico City this weekend.
Should they win, Bermuda would qualify for both the Hong Kong Sevens and Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia, in April.
Additionally, the top four teams will advance to the Central American and Caribbean Games in Barranquilla, Colombia, this summer.
Bermuda struggled at the previous CAC Games in Veracruz, Mexico, in 2014, losing all of their matches and were spared the indignity of finishing outright last only because the seventh place play-off with Costa Rica was cancelled. However, the team have improved greatly under the guidance of head coach Waisale Serevi in the intervening years, Jahan Cedenio, the Bermuda Rugby Football Union press relations officer, said yesterday.
“This time around we’re much stronger and fitter and have learnt a lot of lessons since the last CAC Games,” Cedenio said.
“The expectation is to definitely qualify — that’s the bare minimum. We’re going down [to Mexico City] to win. We’re not going down there to place second or third.”
Bermuda have been grouped in pool B with Dominican Republic and Jamaica, who recently qualified for the Hong Kong Sevens tournament.
Serevi, a legendary former sevens player for Fiji, has named two newcomers in his 13-man squad for the tournament.
Alex Doyling, of Bermuda Institute, will boost the team’s pace on the wing, while former Stirling County fly half Brian Archibald brings a greater depth of experience and knowledge to the side.
“Archibald has played consistently well for his local club, Renegades, and apart from his versatility, he gives us an extra option with his kicking abilities,” Serevi said.
Also included in the squad are West Indies sevens call-ups Tashon DeSilva, who will captain the side, vice-captain Tom Healy and Dan Cole, although stalwart Rich Cumbers is missing after breaking his arm last month. Cumbers has brought forward his decision to retire from international rugby, having initially planned to quit after the tournament. Serevi believes the experience the younger members of the squad gained last season will be hugely beneficial to them.
“Last season enabled us to unearth and develop new talent in the sevens programme and crucially allow younger players to gain invaluable playing experience in major tournaments such as the Las Vegas Sevens and the Bermuda Sevens tournaments.”
Serevi added: “The support staff that we have managed to build around the team has been absolutely invaluable.
“The team has partnered with Dave Wolffe from Beast gym to work on their strength and conditioning, and team physio Bruno Teixeira has been working with the guys for about four years now. This consistent support has helped to ensure that the guys are at their best going into these international games.”
Pool A is made up of Guyana, Barbados and Cayman Islands, while pool C includes Trinidad & Tobago, Mexico, Curaçao and British Virgin Islands.
The Bermuda women’s sevens teams are also competing in Mexico City. They have been pitted against Cayman, Mexico and Jamaica in a round-robin. All matches will be streamed live on RAN’s YouTube channel.
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