Bridgetown, Barbados – The Barbados Men’s Rugby Sevens team has qualified for the XX Commonwealth Games set for Glasgow Scotland in July, following the withdrawal of Nigeria. Barbados will compete in Group A with 4-time winners New Zealand; host Scotland and Canada.
Last year the team attended the North America and Caribbean Rugby Association (NACRA) Sevens Championships with the goal of at least a third place finish. This would have qualified them for the 2014 IRB Sevens World Series (SWS) in Hong Kong and the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Scotland. They qualified for the SWS but missed the Commonwealth Games due to a third place playoff defeat to Trinidad and Tobago.
Director of Men’s Sevens, Joe Whipple said that the players have been hard at work throughout December preparing for the January 2014 Tobago Sevens Invitational and the Las Vegas Invitational Sevens in preparation for Hong Kong. That work ethic was rewarded by a late call-up to the 2014 CWG, due to the withdrawal of the Nigerian team.
“The boys are understandably overjoyed to have earned this opportunity, but now the real work starts,” said Whipple. “The teams that we will face in our Group in Scotland are all core teams on the IRB SWS circuit, so they will have the advantage of having played a full season of high level rugby going into the Games. We need playing time as a group and to get bigger and fitter to compete at that level.”
The Barbados team continues their preparations for the March 28 – 30, Hong Kong tournament by implementing a comprehensive strength and conditioning programme for all prospective players, in addition to their on-going skills training and video analysis sessions.
Nineteen UK-based squad members will assemble for a training camp in the next two weeks (weather permitting), to assess fitness levels and to work on game strategy. The full squad will assemble in mid-March at Loughborough University for a weeklong training camp en route to Hong Kong. Here they will join 11 others seeking to make the IRB SWS as a core team for the 2014-2015 series.
Preparations for the 2014 CWG will kick into full gear in late May. The team will participate in three Sevens tournaments in the UK in May and June, and two more tournaments in early- to mid-July. “These tournaments are critical to our preparations.” says Whipple. “They will allow us to see which of our players can compete at the highest levels, who has the commitment to improve all aspects of their game, and how effective our playing style is against the big teams.”
BRFU President George Nicholson said that the Federation is currently developing a promotional package that would allow local organizations and sponsors to leverage the exposure from the team’s sustained presence on the UK rugby scene throughout June and July. “Sports Tourism is a viable and lucrative market that Barbadian companies can tap into at very low cost. We would be happy to be the poster boys for Brand Barbados in the UK this summer, leading into the Commonwealth Games,” said Nicholson.
For further information on how your company or organization can contribute to or become a sponsor of the Rugby Barbados Sevens team, please contact Joe Whipple at firstname.lastname@example.org or Jason Brewer at email@example.com.